Here's the article from Sunday's paper: Attacks replace issues; politics turns poisonous.
Here's the first paragraph, and you should know from there how this article is going to go:
Claws were bared and tongues were wagging last week as a "catfight" took center stage in the presidential race.
The confrontation began Tuesday when Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic candidate John Edwards, confronted conservative provocateur Ann Coulter on the MSNBC program "Hardball." Portraying herself as incensed over Coulter's personal attacks against her husband, Edwards demanded that the blond bomb-thrower stop "debas[ing] the political dialogue."
Coulter accused the Edwardses of attacking her as a stunt to bring attention and money to their campaign
He goes on to quote Carter Wrenn on political civility, and Andrew Taylor on the Edwardses motivations in starting this fight with Coulter.
Yeah. It's that bad. Here's my letter to Mr. Zane:
Dear Mr. Zane,
I found your article in Sunday's paper to be distasteful, misleading, and one-sided. Your use of the terms "cat fight" and "claws bared" is unfortunate, and not worthy of a professional political reporter. Women have been voting and participating in politics for over a century now. Perhaps it is time to stop condescendingly referring to disagreement between women with feline insults, whether you place those terms in quotes or not. If it was a quote, perhaps you could have told us which political insider used such sexist terms. If the person who used the terms was not worth mentioning, then why were the terms worth including in your article?
Furthermore, to characterize Mrs. Edwards as having had her "claws bared" makes it obvious you did not watch the exchange in question. Contrary to your article, Mrs. Edwards did not "portray herself as incensed" - she was in fact upset, and rightly so. Ann Coulter is beneath contempt, and her comments mocking the Edwardses for losing a teenage son, calling Senator Edwards a "faggot" and then joking about his death in a terrorist attack are beneath even her. And there is not much beneath Coulter. Nevertheless, Edwards was calm, cool, and polite, and she was exactly right. A reader of your article would have thought she and Coulter were involved in a chair-throwing brouhaha on the Jerry Springer show. In fact, Mrs. Edwards called in to a talk show, her voice even and controlled. She was the epitome of southern grace, while Coulter melted down.
Your article then went on to quote Carter Wrenn on the subject of civility in politics. This is like quoting Paris Hilton on chastity. Perhaps you are new here in Raleigh, as I don't recognize your byline, but Carter Wrenn ran Jesse Helms's campaigns. He was the head of the Congressional Club, which broke the rules, relied on barely-coded racist appeals, and essentially cheated to keep Mr. Helms in power. To top it off, you quoted Professor Andrew Taylor, who accepted a half-million dollar grant from the John William Pope Foundation.
In the future, rather than confusing false equivalency with professional detachment, perhaps it would help if you actually interviewed persons on both sides of the aisle and then called a spade a spade. Instead, in your article, you stated that both sides were equivalently wrong or negative, and then spent the rest of the article quoting Republicans.
There was nothing equivalent in the positions of Mrs. Edwards and Coulter. One occupies the public arena with class and dignity. The other is a boil on the body politic. Based on your article, one would never know.
And here's the best information in the whole article.
Staff writer J. Peder Zane can be reached at 829-4773 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have at it.