Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Guardian and the SF Weekly

Compare and Contrast: The cover on last week's SF Bay Guardian (Dec. 22-28) is as good an indication of what that weekly is about as the cover on the current SF Weekly (Dec. 29-Jan.4) is of its identity. The Guardian's cover might have passed for wit in 1967, but now it's only emblematic of how drearily PC that publication has become. The Guardian front page has a phallic Coit Tower over the cliche "Make Love Not War," with peace symbol snowflakes falling on Telegraph Hill. This lame, retro symbolism is appropriate for the Guardian, wherein it's perpetually 1967---or is it 1968? For its part, the cover of the SF Weekly, which only intermittently tries to be politically serious, has grafted Matt Gonzalez's head onto Gavin Newsom's body from the Harper's Bazaar layout that had the mayor and his wife sprawled on the floor of Gordon Getty's mansion. The Guardian's cover is politically retro and timidly suggestive, while the SF Weekly cover is actually funny.

Even worse, inside the issue with the retro-cutesy cover, political editor Tim Redmond pronounces Mayor Newsom's Care Not Cash "an utter failure." Redmond may not have heard about the city's Ten Year Plan, since he wasn't at the press conference last May---though Guardian contributor Rachel Brahinsky was---that presented the mayor's long-range approach to dealing with homelessness in the city. Gavin Newsom has been mayor for less than a year, and Care Not Cash, due to court challenges, has been in force for only a few months. Hence, Redmond's glee at the mayor's alleged failure is premature.

What's clear is that Redmond wants Newsom and San Francisco to fail in dealing with the homeless (just as many city progressives seem to want the US to fail in Iraq, but that's a different story---isn't it?). Redmond would probably reply that the mayor's approach is both unworkable and inhumane. If it's unworkable, why doesn't the Guardian devote space to a substantive, detailed examination of the homeless problem and the alleged deficiencies of the mayor's proposals? The Guardian has no credibility on the compassion argument, since they have been essentially awol on the homeless issue for years. Why does a so-called alternative weekly in a so-called progressive city continue to botch the homeless issue? Good question. (For my ongoing critique of the Guardian) Instead, the task is left to the much-despised, Hearst-owned SF Chronicle, which, in its "Shame of the City" series on homelessness by Kevin Fagan, presents a first-rate attempt at the kind of journalism the Guardian would be doing if it wasn't blinkered by a self-righteous, "progressive" ideology.

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