Brent Larkin on the Columbus Dispatch’s Political Activism and Casinos
From his column:
With that initial editorial, the Dispatch was merely warming to the fight. The Sunday after the election, the newspaper’s first-rate senior editor, Joe Hallett, piled on, arguing in a column, “Like strip clubs, casinos should be put to a test of acceptance from the communities where they are to be located,” wrote Hallett. “By that standard, central Ohio said no — they shouted no — to a casino in their back yard.”
And proof positive that the Dispatch is playing for keeps came in a Nov. 15 column by Mike Curtin, the respected associate publisher emeritus, that essentially ordered city officials to prevent construction of the casino — then told them how to do it.
“Columbus has every right to prevent development of a casino in the Arena District,” Curtin argued in the opening sentence.
The column went on to argue that the passage of Issue 3 does not require the city “to take the many steps necessary to make the site habitable for a casino.” [...]
But in terms of raw hometown power and knowing how to use it — in print and in private — no paper in the state can match the Dispatch. There were times in its past when the newspaper had the reputation of abusing that power. Some think it still does. But without question, in the past decade the Dispatch has become a good newspaper.
Penn National understandably thinks voters gave it the right to build a casino in the Arena District. And while civics tells us the Constitution will always trump the wishes of a newspaper, the Dispatch’s home-field advantage makes it a dangerous opponent.
Then shouldn’t The Dispatch register as a political committee? How can a newspaper keep pretending to be objective and given such access when they are out to crush various business interests?
I suppose this means that if you plan to build a mammoth attraction in Columbus, first you better damn well involve the Wolfe family.
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