Below the Belt and Above the Fold

The Oklahoman

Oklahoma’s largest daily newspaper, The Oklahoman, decided to put the name and picture of the Democratic candidate for Governor of Oklahoma, Drew Edmondson, right next to the name and picture of Hillary Clinton on the front page above the fold of the Sunday edition right before Election Day. I get that The Oklahoman is one of the most conservative papers in the country. I get that the likelihood of The Oklahoman ever endorsing a Democrat for Governor in my lifetime is about as high as Senator Inhofe becoming a champion in the fight to do something about global warming, but this above the fold front page editorial linkage of Edmondson with Clinton is simply a below the belt dirty trick by a newspaper that cares very little for journalistic integrity and cares very much about serving the corporate elite in Oklahoma.

Yes, The Oklahoman also put a picture of the Republican candidate for Governor, Kevin Stitt, right next to the name and picture of Mary Fallin, but they didn’t put Stitt’s name and an extra picture of him right next to hers, and they know how even moderate Republicans in Oklahoma react to Hillary Clinton. Knowing the editorial history of The Oklahoman, it is reasonable to assume that this was a calculated move to peel away moderate Republicans from Edmondson and motivate the rabid Hillary haters at the last minute before the election. As unpopular as Governor Fallin may be, she has won numerous statewide elections in Oklahoma, whereas Clinton did not win one county in Oklahoma in 2016. There is perhaps no other politician more reviled than Hillary Clinton in this state. The Oklahoman knew exactly what they were doing by associating the candidate they oppose on the front page of the paper with Hillary Clinton – as if she has anything to do with the governor’s race in Oklahoma.

And why is it that The Oklahoman and the other major daily newspaper in the state, the Tulsa World, both endorsed Kevin Stitt over Drew Edmondson for governor. The reason has everything to do with the fact that Drew Edmondson made it clear that he cares more about funding education and protecting the environment than he does about protecting oil and gas companies from the restoration of the 7% gross production tax and protecting industrial agriculture from regulations that keep our land, water, and air clean. These two oil and gas funded newspapers would rather have a non-voting political neophyte who talks like Trump and runs his businesses like Trump than someone who won’t be completely controlled by the oil and gas industry like their newspapers are. This is the pathetic reality of Oklahoma politics and most of Oklahoma journalism.

One would think that after years of poorly funded K-12 and higher education, closing rural hospitals, a crumbling infrastructure, the highest incarceration rate on the planet, and years of revenue short falls, that Oklahomans would see through the myth that the oil and gas industry and the state and big city chambers of commerce are looking out for the interests of all Oklahomans, when in reality they fight for tax cuts and gutting environmental regulations that benefit the wealthiest among us but bring very little benefit to the most vulnerable citizens in our communities.

The pathetic reality of an oil and gas controlled Oklahoma politics will not change and the collusion among big business and big media to continue the hegemony of the fossil fuel industry will not end until the people of Oklahoma finally wake up to the reality that we are not “doing fine” and all is not “ok” and vote for a new Oklahoma that serves all people and that cares for well-being of our earth both now and for generations of life to come. Electing Drew Edmondson as Governor of Oklahoma would be a significant step in that direction. He is the only candidate running for governor who has a record of standing up against corporations for the well-being of people and the environment, and this is precisely why the state’s largest newspaper with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry so openly opposes his candidacy.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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