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.