Bad Times Around Tampa Bay - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Bad Times Around Tampa Bay

After engineering a takeover, a newspaper flexes its bias muscles.


In my Tuesday blog alerting TAS readers to the melancholy fact that the neighboring Tampa Bay Times had annexed the ailing TampaTribune, I said the Times was liberal both in its editorials and in its news coverage.

Spotting leftist views (or other tilts) in editorials is easy enough. Editorials, after all, are opinions. This Sunday all Times subscribers, on both sides of Tampa Bay, were hectored on the editorial page to tax themselves more to pay for mass transit, including light rail, which the spread-out Bay Area is manifestly unsuited for, but which is a favorite left hobby-horse.  TheTimes also piled on Florida Senator Marco Rubio for being insufficiently appreciative of how Barack Obama is playing kissy-kissy with the Castro brothers and their thugocracy. And oh yes, the op-ed page features David Brooks.

But editorials are easy enough to skip, and most newspaper readers do. Every survey of which sections of the newspaper are most popular confirms this. Picking up on opinion outside of the editorial page is only a little trickier. Below are just a few examples on how the Times slants its news coverage by selecting news and presenting it with leftist assumptions. These are all from the first Saturday that the Times was also Tampa’s daily.

Leading the local news section is a story about how the Hillsborough County (Tampa) school superintendent is, the headline shouts at us, “at odds with the ACLU.” The obvious question springs immediately to mind. Considering how the ACLU is no more than a leftist pressure group, perfuming itself with a pretended concern for civil liberties, why should we be concerned that public officials are at odds with it? I’m concerned when they aren’t.

As usual, we learn from the story, Union members are stressed that students and school staff do not behave as though religion does not exist from home room through the final bell of the day. Their complaints are as petty as coming down on a local church for passing out free coffee coupons at a faculty meeting. (Speaking of coffee, these complainers should really consider giving up caffeine.) How this represents Congress establishing a religion it would take a highly trained social scientist or sophisticated editorial writer to explain, or to take seriously.

At one point in the story the Times staff writer treats readers to this stand-alone paragraph. “The ACLU was not satisfied.” Duh. When has it ever been? This is news? If the ACLU were ever satisfied, I’d know we were in deep yogurt.

Right under this story, still on page 2A, the headline is “Rising seas no threat to new pier.” Those not familiar with the Times’ inflexible policy of buying into and promoting every leftist delusion the fevered mind of man can invent, might think this is a dismissal of the preposterous notion that “global warming” will cause the seas to rise and swallow the Florida peninsula. (The seas have risen for more than a century at a slow and steady rate, unrelated to the planet’s temperature — you could look it up.) Not a chance. The story under the head tells us the tourist pier the city of St. Petersburg is building will be 3.5 feet higher than the pier that it will replace, giving it a bit more time before it is reclaimed by a surging Tampa Bay.

The staff writer makes it clear in her lead that she is not breaking with orthodoxy: “According to climate change experts, the Tampa Bay area doesn’t stand a chance.” This is the kind of measured reporting on climate that you can rely on in the Times, and alas, just about everywhere else in American big-medialand. Moving from this tabloid generalization to some specifics, she lets the cat out of the bag by quoting from a “bipartisan” report claiming that higher temperatures will cause an extra 45 deaths per 100,000 each year in the Tampa Bay area, and that tens of billions of dollars’ worth of local property will be under water by 2050. The “bipartisan” should be a tip-off to anyone paying attention that the report cited is political, not scientific.

Moving to the business page, we see an approving story about “renewable” energy, under a large picture of wind turbines on the plains of Nebraska. The Associated Press story, under the headline “A power shift,” croons about how a U.S. Department of Energy report claims that two-thirds of electric generating capacity added to the nation’s power grid in 2015 was by wind and solar. Of course they don’t include any numbers on how much power this amounts to, as wind and solar have so far contributed small amounts of unreliable power at high cost. More of the same for 2016 is predicted, the story assures us in passive voice.

And while butt-headed Republican law-makers resist wholesale shifts to renewables, we read, “their home states are often the ones benefiting most from the nation’s accelerating shift to renewable energy.” Of course the writer never gets around to explaining how small amounts of expensive energy benefit anyone.

Nor can anyone explain how Tampa readers benefit from picking up the products of a left echo-chamber from their front lawns every morning.

To be fair, there is other solid and useful reporting in the Times, and the late Great Trib was not immune to liberal bias. But Times writers and editors leave no doubt about which side of the ideological divide they’re on, and their thumbs are frequently on the scale when they report. For Tampa area conservatives, they are, with apologies to Thomas Paine, theTimes that try men’s souls.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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