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Bad Editorials

Date: 3/3/2009

The editors of the Springfield Republican have a bad habit of writing bad editorials. It s not their perspective that is bad; it s their arguments. In the Thursday edition of the paper, the editors set out to defend the decision of the Springfield Finance Control Board to use a Boston law firm to help deal with labor issues in the city, at a cost of approximately $1.8 million.

Many in Springfield have been critical of using a Boston law firm because there are many law firms in Springfield that could have done the work equally well at a lower cost. The editors defense of the FCB s choice consisted of one unsupported claim; that hiring the Boston law firm was a prudent action.

The problem with the editors method of choice, argument by assertion, is that it relies entirely on ad hominem attacks and scapegoating instead of evidence. In this case, the Republican has thrown Springfield s labor lawyers under the Peter Pan bus along with the city s Mayor and labor leaders. The editors claim that Springfield s labor leaders don t care about keeping Springfield s money in Springfield, or about saving taxpayer money, rather according to The Republican, their real motive is to get the city to hire cheaper lawyers so its legal representation will be less effective. The fact that hiring Springfield lawyers would save money primarily due to reduced billing for travel to Springfield didn t find its way into the editorial.

The editors seem to have decided that implying that Boston lawyers were better than Springfield lawyers, to say nothing of savaging Springfield s teachers and police officers, was a small price to pay for the opportunity to defend the control board brought to Springfield by Mayor Charles V. Ryan, a close friend of the Republican s David Starr defeated for re-election by Mayor Sarno. For those scoring at home, I have just employed an argument by innuendo. Sorry, I couldn t resist.

Sarcasm alert!

I wonder how the editors would react to the notion that if they are right about Boston s lawyers, maybe the same is true of Boston s newspapers. Maybe Springfield residents should listen to The Republican s implied advice and begin getting their news from the Boston Globe or Boston Herald? It s a bit more expensive, but I m sure the Republican editors would agree that it would be a prudent action.

Jerold J. Duquette