Editorial: Boycott The Philadelphia Inquirer.


As you may already know, the all-but-late and once-great Philadelphia Inquirer has, as of Sunday, enlisted a new regular monthly columnist to its stable, a man named John Yoo. Now, if you’ve been paying any attention to national events over the last few years, you’ll know that Yoo authored the Bush Administration’s Torture Memo, which ushered in an era of war crimes that still haunts this country, and the size and scope of which we may not ever truly know. On Sunday, the Inky ran an op-ed piece with little fanfare by Yoo, who is, we must shamefully admit here, a native Philadelphian. The paper had run pieces by Yoo here and there since 2005 — which is ill-advised enough — but on Sunday, his byline was accompanied by a little something extra: The phrase “Inquirer Columnist.”

In this excellent post by Will Bunch, the how, why, and wherefore of Yoo’s employment at the Inquirer are explained, as well as Inky staff’s lame, lame rationalization for it all. (Be careful when reading; that part alone is enough to make your head explode.) But suffice it to say that this is pretty much the crowning achievement of Brian Tierney‘s quest to, brick by brick, turn the Inky into a parlor for a conservative base that, if last year’s election results were anything to go by, pretty much doesn’t exist in Philadelphia outside of the Union League. Which would be fine on the face of it — newspapers are indeed here, in part and for the moment, to stimulate debate. So let Michael Smerconish drone on — the more you do, the more he drifts toward the center anyway. And by all means, allow GOP laughing stock Rick Santorum to jaw away — his column is a piece of high camp, even if he may never realize it. And, yes, we suppose, Mr. Tierney, that you could even sacrifice the integrity of the paper’s editorial page by that strange dual endorsement last year of both Obama and McCain. After all, for the moment at least, it’s your paper. And that dual endorsement just grows more hilarious with time. It’s a kind of “Dewey Defeats Truman” thing.

But to give voice to one of the architects of one of America’s darkest moments ever is simply a bridge too far. As readers and colleagues in the media (however much some Inky folks might want to deny that simple fact), we are, to put it plainly, disgusted. This city has taken a lot of abuse from the Philadelphia Inquirer over the years, and via its ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it stands to take more — who knows how much local businesses will get stiffed when all is said and done? This is more than insult to injury. To even have Yoo’s voice emanating from this city’s presupposed paper of record is a blight upon Philadelphia itself. And it’s here that we say, “Enough.” Please join us in boycotting the Philadelphia Inquirer from this point forward — both in physical form AND online — until the paper sees fit to remove John Yoo from its pages, and encourage others to do so as well. For those of us here at Philebrity, who only buy the physical paper casually, of course that means we’ll stop — as well as encouraging family members who have subscriptions to cancel. But it also means that this site will not be linking to any Inquirer stories for the duration of this boycott. Are we so full of ourselves that we think that will matter? Of course not. But if, like us, you are appalled by the Inquirer‘s judgement on this matter — and we’re going to bet that most readers of this blog are — maybe you’ll follow suit. Tell someone you know. Grab the button at the top and display it on your own blog. Re-Tweet this story. Start up a Facebook group (we’ll definitely link to it). And before you know it, all those drops in the bucket could add up. Last we heard, the Inquirer needed every one it could get.

32 Responses to “Editorial: Boycott The Philadelphia Inquirer.”

  1. expat attack Says:

    With all due thanks to Will Bunch for pointing this out, I think the boycott should extend to the Daily News and Philly.com as well. The company needs to be brought to its knees, toot suite. Boycotting all its revenue generating operations is the quickest way to do that.

  2. buddy Says:

    I will participate in the boycott of the inquirer. I am also boycotting horse drawn carriages, cobbling and snuff boxes.

  3. the_ill Says:

    i saw will bunch’s piece this morning and sent it along andrew sullivan, who has been extremely vocal in the matter of bringing those who were involved in torture to justice. here’s his post regarding this:


    a little national/international attention should help

  4. lord_whimsy Says:

    I am also boycotting horse drawn carriages, cobbling and snuff boxes.

    Easy, tiger.

  5. Andricon Says:

    Of course, hiring a controversial columnist like Yoo is usually done expressly to generate attention and get people talking, and a boycott would be more attention than The Inquirer has received since Tierney first came on board, and it would be the most relevant story they print this year. Such a movement would, if anything, affect their three advertisers, who would pull their three ads and cause their one proofreader (I’m going on a limb and assuming they still have one, despite daily evidence to the contrary) to lose his job so Brian doesn’t have to cut his Corsican vacation down by a day.

    That being said, John Yoo should be exiled to Neptune.

  6. the_ill Says:

    boycotting the obsolete. i get it

  7. C. The Impaler Says:

    (Warning, about to channel jburnside on thorazine)

    Dumb. Asses.

    Sure, the editorial page has lost all credibility since before the double endorsement. My guess is then content is based on metrics gathered from p.com’s comments.

    Sure, yeah you can bitch and moan on YPP’s Anti John Yoo meme (I mean, how else would philebrity know who the fuck Yoo is). But, the INQY/DN did do the city a solid with its BRT expose … coincidentally followed by city council and the mayor fuhgeddin about it’s planned real estate tax hike predicated upon that broken foundation. Let’s also not forget the INQY/DN doubleteam number on the City PD’s narcotics squad’s across the board misconduct (abusing informants, making up probable cause in order to do everything from book arrests to raid bodegas for cash).

    In this day and age, you’re going to pull something straight out of the Bush doctrine playbook? We don’t like what that page is doing so we’re going to turn our backs on the whole enterprise. Please, in this day and age, with all the tools for dialogue and voicing opinion, Philebrity cops for a boycott move. Effing LAME.

    Also FWIW, “war criminal” John Yoo hasn’t even been indicted in Spain yet, if ever. I know “war criminal” is an reiterated aspersion that gives bloggers a big hardon when they recast it, but most reasonable people (outside the YPP bratty lawyers-to-be who speak their conscience before going into corporate law, or at least date the women who do) realize that a “war criminal” is simply a rhetorical barb with nothing but ideological teeth unless you’re actually talking about a convicted war criminal. Write now, all we have is a lawyer, who may get disbarred for writing some fucked up legal rationalizations, that’s all.

    Funny, when the DiNqy was going after Philly’s Narcotics unit and doing the real first order journalism work on the BRT, where was Philebrity? Altertately wet dreaming about yet another Philadelphia area “salon” for creatives and suffering from “swine flu.”

    (thorazine’s wearing off, actual jburnside broadside anticipated)

  8. John Lightstone Says:

    FYI — KYW 1060 has a pretty good daily e-mail which updates most local stories.

  9. C. The Impaler Says:

    Wait a second, how’s Philebrity going to comment on any in depth news in the Philadelphia area without, I get it, sick leave.

  10. lutton Says:

    I can’t go read Bunch’s post for fear I might get sucked into the black hole of emotional desperation that is his comments section…

  11. expat attack Says:

    Ohhh, the comments are more depressing/disgusting than John Yoo writing for the Inquirer.

  12. Walter Sobchak Says:


  13. zoinkz Says:

    Thanks for pointing this out… However… If you have a problem with torture involving known terrorists/extremists then we should really be boycotting you…. Jus sayin.. Hippy.

  14. C. The Impaler Says:

    This post reminded me, I can watch 24 on Hulu today. Thanks!

  15. Walter Sobchak Says:

    I’m glad that you pointed this out, Philebrity, because while I did read philly.com, I missed this news that Yoo has a column. I’m joining your boycott and encouraging others to do the same.

  16. sooz Says:

    Outrageous! This is totally demonstration-worthy. Anybody planning one? Also, anyone know the names and e-mail addresses of any Inquirer advertisers so we can drop them a little note about how their brands are now linked to a guy being investigated for crimes against humanity?

  17. C. The Impaler Says:

    Yeah, sooz, _no one_ publishes anything by Henry Kissinger and no one wants anything to do with Kissinger Associates. If anyone in this thread knew their late 20th Century history as far as really fucked up things the U.S. is responsible for, John Yoo is really really small potatoes, basically a dartboard for the easily distracted “netroots” of the left to throw at while things around them don’t really change. He may get disbarred but you’ll never see him before an international tribunal.

    Thus ends the Impaler’s address to the class of ’09.

  18. expat attack Says:

    Cheese, you know your current events and history quite well. I would certainly never argue otherwise. You’re just on the wrong side of this however.

  19. C. The Impaler Says:

    Expat, don’t get me wrong, Yoo radiates “bad guy” a thousand ways and it would be pretty to see him get his in some ways besides a truth and reconciliation commission (which I think is the only way the whole torture thing’s going to be put to rest). But should a paper that actually still does significant community good (c.f. narco cops and the brt exposes, and that’s just in the past two month) really be the subject of a boycott led by a blog whose antipathy for “old world” journalism is strangely where the blog’s voice walks the maturity tightrope most tense?

    Face it, Philebrity, the entire lot, probably didn’t know who the fuck John Yoo was until Joey ran into Dan U.A. or whoever at the Pen and Pencil last night. This is a stunt, through which Joey thinks, however unlikely, that maybe, just maybe, he can DESTROY THE INQUIRER! There are so many ways a “voice” could be raised here besides something as hackneyed and cliched as a boycott (Old head to another old head, “Hey the youngs are boycotting the paper!” “Oh yeah, they done with that Jamie Foxx guy?”).

    p.s. I know my current events and recent history because I get my news primarily from newspaper outlets.

    p.p.s. I’m betting 90-98% of the feedback Philebs is getting hasn’t bought an issue of the Inq in the past ten days.

  20. tips Says:

    Listen, Cheese, I’m happy to let you run with the ball all you want down here, but I must step in: First of all, fuck you. I read a LOT of news. I’ve known who John Yoo is for years now. Secondly, you have a straaaange read on my social life (couldn’t pick Dan UA out of a lineup, only go to the Pen & Pencil when fate forces my hand) and career desires — yes, Cheesesteak the Impaler, I lose sleep at night trying to figure out how to bring down the newspaper I grew up reading (and once wrote for). Which one of us has the sad fucking comic book villain name again? Take your POV on this however you like, obviously, but don’t get it twisted. I see the Yoo move as an abuse, as something that offends, and something that could possibly be changed if people raise enough hell. Nothing more, nothing less.

    As you were.

  21. sooz Says:

    Cheese, I said “investigated for” which is already underway (even if mostly symbolic, but still..):


    And while Yoo may be small potatoes, them potatoes be rotten and I don’t want em stinkin up my morning coffee time.

  22. Sonny Says:

    OK, CTI, I’ll bite. I don’t know how in the world all of us could be getting you wrong, considering how clear you’ve been today. So, we’re all a bunch of over-educated art students who don’t read newspapers and don’t know half of what you know, including history and current events, and I guess that makes us unworthy of having an opinion at any stage of life’s events.

    We are so very sorry for even the temerity of our efforts to be upset about this, because you are so clearly aware of how little we know and what little right we have to feel the way we do. Yet, would you please deign to let us, just this once, feel something about…something?

    You’re right — Yoo hasn’t even been indicted in Spain yet. What the fuck are we upset about? Pfff. Silly hipsters. And you’re God damn right, too, about the ours newspapers’ work lately. The old-timey coverage of the BRT mess and the narco squads shows they still got game, and for that they should be excused. For everything. Did I…get that right? I mean, since you keep bringing it up, I gathered that was the thrust of your defense (and attack).

    Or do you have some things to learn about the relationship between a community and its press? Maybe there is no one way to understand what mass communications is about, and no one way that it speaks to its people. Maybe that’s why newspapers write about different things. You know, sections. Maybe to those who don’t respect the newspaper’s handling of its changing landscape still have a right to feel some ownership toward it, it being the agent of the community (or supposed to be).

    Maybe it doesn’t matter if they knew who John Yoo was before today. They know now, and that’s what matters.

    So before you sling yourself up to the bar tonight feeling smug about how you put the kids in their place, knowing all as you do, hear this. I’m a 46-year-old veteran of newspapers, the Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg. I have been in the business for 23 years now. I read newspapers every day, and I knew who John Yoo was yesterday, you fuck. I know my current events, like hundreds of other readers here. You just haven’t met us all.

    I’m an avid reader of this blog because it means something to me the same way the newspapers here mean something to me, and I resent you teeing off on anyone and everyone whom you think doesn’t know as much as you do. What’s more, I agree with this site’s position here. No matter what’s happened before, no matter where Kissinger is or how he escaped what was coming to him, this site and its readers have valuable feelings and deserve to be respected. And I don’t like being lectured by some cock who calls himself Cheesesteak.

    So tell us, great and powerful Oz — how should we, the great unwashed, respond to this issue? You surely know it all. Show us the way. I’m reading.

  23. expat attack Says:

    Cheese, you’re making some very broad assumptions about Philebrity and its readers with scant evidence to back it up. I’d happily got toe to toe with you on Yoo, Bybee, Schlozman, Gonzalez, Bradbury, Addington, Magneto, Luther, Pruneface and the rest. And I think there’s plenty others here who could do the same. The fact that you have such disdain for the intelligence of everyone here, yet spend plenty of time here anyway, means you’re either insecure or a masochist or both.

    And specific to this boycott, cliched or not, your assumption that this is about Sweeney’s general old media ire and not specific to an irrefutable war criminal sullying our collective names further than he has already, is dead wrong. Some people still care enough to get righteous indignation. Yoo isn’t just a “bad guy”. He’s a stain on our nation.

    And if all that isn’t good enough for you, at the very, very least he shouldn’t get a job at the paper because he was shitty fucking lawyer. His memos were all revoked because they stunk. They made untenable and logically flawed arguments in support abominable acts. In that small trivial light, he doesn’t get the job because he isn’t even fucking qualified.

  24. lutton Says:

    hey Cheese…

    I don’t think most people want good hard-nosed investigative reporting to go away, nor do I think they wish the demise of a long standing local institution.

    However, when that institution’s standing is abused to extol disgraced and shunned figures like Yoo, then consequence should be borne. (yes, even by the staff–maybe they’ll consider airing their grievances if they get enough support.)

    The publisher’s conservative slant is becoming embarrassingly obvious, as I noticed just days ago with their umpteenth story on the runs-on-guns phenomenon.

    Now adding Yoo to their masthead is the gob-smacking answer to the question of where do they go next? Smirconish, Santorum, and Yoo?

    It’s like the father, the child and the holy *crap* of conservative opinion…

  25. rk Says:

    Smerconish, Santorum, fine. A fully conservative op-ed page? sure. George Will? go for it. don’t care.

    John Yoo, on the other hand, is beyond the pale. For one, he’s not that big a name except that he’s the guy behind the torture memo (your argument, in fact, plays out for the other side. If Yoo were a famous figure (like Kissinger) for his work, it’d be another story. However, the only reason he’s getting this press access is his torture memo. It’s like a weird political son of sam law issue. expat attack gets at that well.

    Now, the idea that the inky did this in order to gain press for itself? possible. If so, that’s beyond despicable. However, the secretive way in which they did it makes me believe that less.

    As per your argument about the inky’s investigative reporting…are they going to stop doing that once there’s a boycott? No. (well, they might because they are idiots)…but nonetheless, that’s still a bad argument against boycotting. It’s like saying don’t fight against Mussolini because he got the trains to run on time! or don’t mind the segregation, Wallace did great things for the Alabama economy!

    rather, make a case for another action…but i’m not sure what it is. The Inky reminds me of the republican party…rallying its old, conservative base and failing to change. Calling democrats “obama democrats” is great for the dems–anything obama touches is still turning to gold. i’d like my political opponents and my local paper to both be worthy opponents. Having John f*cking Yoo as a columnist is not a sign of worthiness.

  26. WG1305R Says:

    You Liberals are full of crap.

    You act as though you support freedom of speech, you foolishly believe that you stand up for noble causes. Honestly, you’re extremely ignorant and proud of it.

    You’ll be the first to cry when some terrorist (not to be confused with a prisoner of war – these cretins were not POW’s) straps a bomb inside his shirt and kills innocent Americans. You’ll cry “why didn’t the big government do something?” You’ve stopped your BIG Government from doing anything. In addition, you now want to silence anyone who disagrees with you – like your hero – that fool Bill Mahr.

    What’s next liberals ? Thought and word police?

    Let the military do their job – which is protecting you and your property.

    If you ever intend to develop a good arguement you should read and understand the writing of someone whose opinion you’re not in agreement with. Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot that liberals don’t do that. Ignorance is bliss.

  27. t-train Says:

    I hate it when right-wingers cry like little girls. Grow a pair, WG1305R. You sound like a Nixon tape.

  28. expat attack Says:


    Why is this no longer a sticky? It should stay at the top until the boycott is over.

  29. tips Says:

    @ expat: That would be annoying as fuck. A link/button will show up somewhere noticeable elsewhere on the main page in a bit — working on it now.

  30. John Lightstone Says:

    The Inquirer’s reponse? Baiting Philebrity with a story today on hipsters in Kensington.

  31. amye Says:

    Thanks, John, for calling attention to the story. Believe me, the timing a day after philebrity calls a boycott was unintentional and unfortunate. I hope somebody out there reads it anyway. And I realize it probably uses the word hipster to excess.

  32. Hovering Says:

    Isn’t this a but much? What about news/opinion (church/state)? Yoo is a scumbag of course, but for my money the worst thing the Inquirer ever did, and continues to do, is give voice to the all-time, Hall of Fame, Top 5 hypocrites ever, Santorum. Santorum is the anti-Christ, plain and simple.

    And yeah, I buy it that the BRT stories are relevant here. That was fantastic journalism that should be supported. There should have been a campaign to subscribe, in fact, based on that series.

    So I admire the effort here and the intensity, but can’t really join in a “boycott” of what is still the region’s best news source because of an opinion columnist, terrible as he may be. I mean, again, Santorum. Please.

    Maybe join the anti-casino people instead. They are making a difference on something that is truly threatening, not just making a gesture. It’s disappointing to see newspaper guys, now bloggers, bashing other newspaper peeps who have it pretty bad already, what with Tierney, all the layoffs, the wage freezes and benefit cuts, the industry in general, etc.

    Now, those women in the Rumsfeld video? That there was some real hard-core protesting of a war criminal. Guts rather than glory.

    That said, you guys are great. Keep it up.

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