Friday, March 13, 2020

Inky's Fired 'Token Conservative' Says Paper Was Clueless

By Ralph Cipriano

Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, some 30 shell-shocked editors, reporters and columnists at The Philadelphia Inquirer gathered in a conference room to discuss how the hell Hillary Clinton, the most qualified candidate in history, had just lost to a huckster like Donald Trump.

As the newspaper's only conservative columnist, Christine Flowers had mixed feelings as she sat through the grim post mortem.

"It was almost like doing triage," she recalled. "They wanted to be in touch with the community that they purportedly covered so well." But when Trump pulled off the upset by carrying Pennsylvania, Flowers said, "It did blindside them." The Inky staffers -- a bunch of card-carrying liberals, Progressive Democrats and social justice warriors -- were completely clueless about "what the hell happened here."

When somebody suggested they might actually talk to some Trump voters to find out what they were thinking, Flowers looked around the table and was stunned to see "the anger and hatred in some of these journalists' eyes."

Why talk to the enemy, right?

Last week, the Inquirer turned its scorn on Flowers, who, as the newspaper's only conservative columnist, was sent packing after 17 years as a regular freelancer.

Way back in 1965, when riots broke out in Watts, the Los Angeles Times was in a pickle. The paper's lily white reporting staff was understandably nervous about venturing out into a neighborhood where blacks were rioting, smashing store windows and overturning police cars.

But the Times didn't have any black reporters on staff to cover the story. So the editors had to press into service as their roving correspondent in a flaming ghetto, Robert Richardson, a former Army sharpshooter who was a messenger in the newspaper's advertising department.

For decades afterwards, the Times and every other newspaper in the country launched one recruitment drive after another to hire more minority reporters to diversify their staffs.

But after Trump won the presidency, the Inquirer and the other clueless newspapers who totally missed the story saw no pressing need to hire any more conservatives or independent thinkers.

In the Inquirer newsroom where I used to work, diversity was a towering gold statue, a false god that everyone had to bow down to. By hiring more journalists of color, as well as female journalists, and gay and lesbian journalists, or so the mantra went, the newspaper would be far more enlightened and thus infinitely better.

But nobody had a problem if everyone on that diversified staff all thought alike.

At the Inquirer, Flowers agreed, diversity "is what you look like and what your DNA says you are." For the journalists at the paper of record, it's all about superficialities.

"Diversity of thought," however, Flowers said, "is not a factor."

The Inquirer, for example, doesn't have any black conservatives around, Flowers noted. Or any Latinas who are against open borders.

So when it came to promoting so-called safe injection sites that the newspaper was relentlessly campaigning for, once again the liberal Dems and the Progressives and the social justice warriors in the newsroom were all on the same page with their philosophical soulmate, Mayor Kenney, as well as former Governor Rendell, a late convert to the cause.

But Flowers saw a problem.

"I think it was horrible," she said of the paper's coverage of the so-called safe injection sites.

"It was totally one-sided," she said. "Every single writer and every single columnist" saw it the exact same way. So when Mayor Kenney went on Twitter and "was trying to shame people into having compassion" for addicts, Flowers saw red.

Because the latest Progressive cause was so virtuous, the people of South Philly only got one week's notice before Kenney and Rendell and the rest of the Safehousers sponsored by the Inky were going to invade their neighborhood with an army of freshly shot-up drug Zombies, and their entourage of hookers and drug dealers.

Anybody got a problem with that?

"It's pathetic," Flowers said of the Inquirer's coverage of the South Philly safe injection site that another recent Inky exile, former columnist Stu Bykofsky, dubbed the "not safe shooting gallery."

"They've done a huge disservice in the way the they covered that issue," said Flowers, who lost a brother to a drug overdose. "They [The Inky] ignored and disrespected huge parts of the community."

So when South Philly rebelled, once again the Inky was caught flat-footed.

"Just as they were shocked at the Trump election they were blindsided by the South Philadelphia reaction," Flowers said.

But nobody suggested changing their relentlessly Progressive outlook. At the Inky, they always view as aliens Republicans and conservatives and anyone who might actually believe in God.

So there was nothing wrong, for example, when  the late Tony Auth drew a cartoon of all the sitting Catholic justices on the Supreme Court wearing papal mitres.

It was similarly Ok for the editorial board to run a recent March 9th editorial urging readers to light more candles for 86-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg's health, as the Supreme Court prepared to reconsider the abortion issue.

It took a reader to point out the irony of advocating the lighting of candles "so that one justice will live, in order to continue the killing of another 750,000 lives a year."

"The tone deafness there is overwhelming," Flowers said.

It's similarly OK for Progressive columnist Will Bunch to denounce Donald Trump on an almost daily basis as the "Trump nightmare" or the "bombastic narcissist," etc. But it wasn't Ok for Flowers to go on Twitter and argue with people.

"I think the thumb was on the scale because of my conservative views," she said.

Her official reason for termination was her "interaction with readers," which her editors told her was inappropriate and disrespectful. But Flowers was left wondering how she was supposed to be respectful to people who called her a fascist and told her she should be raped or killed.

Flowers will be OK without her Inky gig. She never set out to be a journalist. She's an immigration lawyer. Seventeen years ago, she sent in a letter to the editor of the Daily News that was so well-written it became an op-ed.

A new career was born.

Most of the years she wrote her column, it was published in the Daily News. As anyone who worked there could tell you, it was a helluva lot more fun than writing for the Inquirer. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning paper of record, the serious journalists at the Inky always felt they had a license to bore everyone to death.

But when the Inquirer absorbed the Daily News, Flowers watched in frustration in recent years as she was edited more heavily, in addition to being closely monitored by her bosses on Twitter. As a result, she admits now, in her last Inky columns, she found herself pulling her punches.

Now, she feels she's gotten back the freedom to say whatever she wants, so she can continue to annoy her Progressive friends. She's still got a syndicated column, a talk show gig on WPHT radio, and she also appears Sundays on 6ABC's Inside Edition.

Upon reflection, Flowers is grateful to both newspapers for the platform they gave her for all those years, but she's not happy about how her firing went down.

"I'm angry at what they did and the way they did it," she said. "The thing is, I really was kind of like the token conservative so they could say they had balance. What happens when that minimal balance is gone?"

I can answer that question for you, Christine. The Inky happily returns to being a safe place for social justice warriors, a Progressive paradise, a gated community for the like-minded.

No independent thought allowed.


  1. I still subscribe to the Inquirer although frequently ask myself why I still do so. The quality of the writing is abysmal, the opinions uniform and are usually wrong. Most importantly, the paper does tell me much that I don't already know or find out elsewhere. A local paper is supposed to be the best source for local news, sports and the obituaries. The coverage of local sports(especially at the high school level) has been cut back to the point that it no longer provides much information that I seek. The quality of sports writers and sports columnists(with a very few exceptions such as Joe Juliano and Bob Ford) are pathetic. As a general rule they know less about the teams that they cover than some of the bloggers out there, and there writing is simply not interesting. They offer little perspective. The editorial page prevents no diversity of opinion. More importantly, it has no appeal to the demographics of its subscribers. The elimination of Ms. Flowers is just another nail in the coffin of the paper that Gerry Lenfest gave away and threw $20 million on top of it to so he could limit the amount of his future losses. It has only become a worse paper.

  2. Shame on the Inquirer. It is time for another newspaper with tolerance for conservative views (perhaps an online newspaper) to compete with the Inquirer. The Inquirer blames declining readership on lack of advertisements and fails to see that many former readers dislike the blatant liberal bias. Wealthy Philadelphia conservatives should get together and put up the funds to launch a counter-newspaper in Philadelphia.

    1. If you can find a Republican still alive in Philadelphia. The party is dead. They run bag ladies and the mentally ill for mayor.

    2. Start with one that just covers crime, it may make it easier to do. You can focus on trials and the DOJ that will be more than enough to keep everyone busy. This would be the first time the public would be treated to facts instead of the will of the Inky Editorial Board and reporters with an ax to grind.

      Maybe we do not need all the reporters to be trained journalist, we can certainly find victims of the Inky to report their account of life at the hands of unscrupulous prosecutors and journalists.

  3. This some pretty biased commentary for a supposedly "unvarnished" view on things.

  4. Where is the bias? In favor of cluelessness? And blindly subscribing to one political philosophy?

    Have been a registered independent all my life. Are you an Inky editor? One of the people around that table Flowers was talking about with anger in your eyes?

  5. And there in lies the rub, you are blindly subscribing to one political philosophy without consideration. To suggest otherwise is laughable at best and shows the lack of internal reflection and hypocrisy within that statement.

  6. Really don't know what you're talking about. The blindness is on your end and the paper's. I suspect they are one and the same, but don't know for sure.

  7. Just another conservative snowflake... wha wha, people are always out for the conservative blood! Give it up already, you are all just angry about everything.

  8. As a long time bigtrial reader and frequent commenter, here are my thoughts as a Democrat and a mostly liberal. You Ralph, in my estimation have always called the shots as you saw them, which I greatly admire. Covering the courts calls for an even temper and an open mind, two qualities I believe you possess. Allowing the public to also express their views is rewarding for the person writing but hopefully to the reader to see how others feel about the same subject. We usually find out lots of info we would not have heard otherwise, bits and pieces that make a story real.

    The Inky who has been working with the prosecution as a partner to destroy fellow citizens transcends political affiliation, it belongs to a subset of people who believe that people with opposing viewpoints need to be punished and scapegoated. No matter the cost of human life, they are able to convince themselves that it's for the common good or in their own words "fighting corruption". A bit like being a member of a secret society who sits in judgment on fellow citizens but outwardly playing the diplomat trying to persuade its readers they are impartial and unbiased.

    No media outlet should condemn a person who has been accused of a crime by a prosecutor, no media outlet should voice an opinion condemning an accused person giving more weight to the prosecution's case. Partnering with the prosecution is wrong, let the DOJ fight their own battles, the Inkys job is to remain neutral and not print damaging information about an accused. During a trial, the Inky should be able to accurately relate the days' events, regardless if they agree with the outcome. Being partnered with the prosecution does not allow for the public to make a decision, we are force-fed the prosecution's version of facts through Inky reporters.

    No one is able to think for themselves, no one is able to decide if a defendant was innocent or guilty based on the facts of the case as they played out. If the Inky says a defendant is guilty they are condemned for life, the Inky influences the jury and the judge. The judge and jury want to oblige as the public is clamoring for the defendant's head to roll.

    Give us the facts let us decide for ourselves, remember when the Inky prints" facts" and they are proven wrong they never retract their views or admit they got it wrong. How can a paper condemn a defendant without sitting through an entire trial, and printing the accurate facts after the day's court proceedings? Giving us false and misleading info is criminal.

  9. Had the Inky not been in bed with the feds during the Philadelphia Traffic Court case, the region and the world would have known the devious tricks employed by the prosecution and that a young fresh-scrubbed, All American looking FBI agent lied, multiple times during the trial for the prosecution.
    Deceiving the public is dangerous and that is exactly what the prosecution and the Inky did to Philadelphia. That trial was totally unnecessary and served no purpose for the people of the city. If that court needed a revamping and re configuring that should have been the method, not a wasteful federal trial that bankrupted most of the accused.

    As for the Republicans being nonexistent, they were behind the take down of Traffic Court or should I say one Republican in general, along with his buddies in the federal building. Maybe the Republicans are not drinking the Kool-Aid and realize that all politicians have a target on their backs.
    Who would want to be a politician in these days of "all politicians are crooks" expressed by a federal prosecutor. It's not worth it, let someone else be the politician, stay out its a dirty business and the media despises you as well.

    I would like to think that no matter the party you identify with you would have to expect the prosecution to tell the truth and a media outlet to report the truth. There is no better way to lose the trust of the public that being dishonest, exactly what I accuse the Inky of doing, swaying public opinion to serve the prosection.

    Without bigtrial I would never have known of Krasner's failings by putting people at risk, not being able to work with law enforcement hinders his ability to keep us safe, I want a truth seeker and truth speaker as a DA. We did need a conviction review unit to undo years of lies, which I do believe happened. I suggest the Inky does not endorse anyone for DA or any political office, give us the stats and let us decide.

    America is not the country I thought it was, I thought the truth mattered, I thought telling the truth was an attribute to be praised not ignored or scorned. The Inky has rendered itself useless if it can not tell the truth.

  10. Why no coverage home, no DueProcess, STOLEN just compensation...


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