Credibility is an asset an editorial page can lose in more than one way. One of the ways is by being highly, highly predictable. We see this play out today, as the Wisconsin State Journal sides with a wealthy and powerful real estate developer in a rather arcane judgment call about exactly how much Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) the city should provide to renovate a hotel. Readers could easily predict the WSJ would side with the developer.
The thing is, the WSJ might be right. All the various facts, judgments and trade-offs might really be with the editorial writers. We don’t know.
But the highly predictable habit of supporting wealthy and powerful developers damages the ability of the State Journal to be taken seriously. Are they a thoughtful, independent arbiter? Not really. Have they gone to the Mayor and reported in any depth on why he’s proposed slashing the TIF subsidy? (This would be on their news pages. Mayor Soglin is a serious person. We’d like a few hundred words of what he’s thinking.) We can’t find it.
We’re left with the easy business of classifying this as an obvious Editorial Type 1 – The Genuine Meat, wherein the paper advocates as best it can for it’s business heroes.