Inventory of Trump opinions shared

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Posted 8/07/18 (Tue)

Whines & Roses
By Cecile Wehrman

Recently I had a friendly exchange with a longtime subscriber who complained we’re heavy on Trump criticism and cartoons.
Now living out-of-state, the writer said the liberal bent of our opinion pages is less like a letter from home and more like a big turn-off. It reminded me of a letter last spring from a Tioga writer, expressing the same sentiment.
So I set out to catalog what our commentary page has looked like since November 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president. It didn’t surprise me that we’ve carried a lot of Trump cartoons. Of the two or three we have to choose from each week, I tend to pick the one I feel is funniest. Probably, humor is in the eye of the beholder.
But I was surprised to find how few columns deal specifically with criticism of Trump -- his policies, yes; not so much, the man as president.
Over the 80 weeks since the election, our commentary pages included 12 cartoons that specifically depict Trump or mention the Trump name. Thirteen more cartoons skewered issues Trump is involved with, including  cartoons depicting Korean leader Kim Jong Un, missiles, healthcare, Comey’s firing, Spicer’s resignation, immigration policies, and the like. One cartoon trumpeted Trump’s tax cut positively.
That’s a total of 26 cartoons -- about a third of the total weeks since the election -- that have anything to do with Trump.
Columns are little more difficult to classify, but as an overview, there are two significant changes worth noting since the election. One is the fact that every other year, and in this case, from January through April 2017 -- as has been customary for many years -- we gave up one local column space (usually mine) to provide district legislators (which have tended to be Republicans) room to share news of the state legislative session. We will extend that offer again during the 2019 session. Two, after more than 60 years of anchoring our commentary page with a pretty conservative view, the voice of John Andrist was silenced when he passed away, this past January.
Earlier this year I contacted three different people I believed might be able to contribute a more conservative view each week -- one in Crosby, one in Tioga, and one further afield. No takers.
There are no conservative columnists in North Dakota offering a syndicated weekly message that I am aware of. So that leaves us with Steve Andrist (a self-branded Independent), myself or Lloyd Omdahl (brand us the Democrats) and Holly Anderson who is decidedly apolitical in her musings.
Finding someone with the knowledge, standing and demeanor to deliver a fact-based conservative view, with an understanding of our locale, clearly, has not been successful. 
So what have we given you instead? Much less of Trump than I would have guessed.
Despite Steve’s proclamation before the election that “Clinton is less bad than Trump,” and my column of the previous week titled “From one nasty woman to another, ‘You go, Hillary!’” my review shows we’ve shared only five columns between us, since November 2016, in which the purpose of the column was to criticize Trump. 
Two of the columns -- about Trump’s lying and its wider implications for our nation -- came the same week -- just two weeks ago.
We’ve written many other columns that criticize specific issues that Trump has led the charge on -- from immigration to national anthem kneeling to Charlottesville protests.
What subjects have we written about more than Trump? Facebook and so-called fake news and how that’s impacting our society and journalism in general. There have also been several columns mentioning concern about Russian interference in our election systems.
The name Trump generates 77 and 82 hits when used in a keyword search of Journal and Tribune archives since the election, including all news and commentary. That’s an average of once per week that Trump made the paper.
The word “collusion,” meanwhile, has appeared on the commentary page only once -- but not in relation to Trump.
Okay, make that twice now.