In this mercenary age, when we think of a "White Knight", we tend to think of Company A, which is paying big bucks to acquire Company B, lest it fall into the hands of the evil fiends at Company C who were planning a hostile takeover of B. Company A, of course, isn't doing this out of the goodness of its corporate heart, but then again, the days of chivalry are pretty much dead. Still, the concept of the White Knight is familiar enough that it doesn't require a whole lot of explanation; Colgate-Palmolive ran advertisements for its Ajax laundry detergent for years using the Knight's image.

Those of us who have long been frustrated with the brand of ersatz journalism that oozed from The Daily Oklahoman have been praying for the arrival of some kind of White Knight — either acquisition by a newspaper chain, or a sudden change of heart (or other vital signs) by cranky publisher T. Herman Zweibel — oops, Edward L. Gaylord, Jr. None of us expected any kind of change to come from within.

And yet something is happening in the Black Tower on Broadway Extension. A chap named Stan Tiner is now occupying the Executive Editor's desk, with Mike Shannon and Joe Hight now sharing Managing Editor duties. (Previous Managing Editor Ed Kelley, perhaps glad to be back on the street, is now chief of the paper's Washington bureau.) From the looks of things, Tiner has issued two commands: "Make this paper look less like a throwback to the 1950s," and "Get this paper's perceived politics out of the 1850s."

The cosmetic changes were easy enough. Getting anything resembling progress out of Patrick B. McGuigan, the modern-day Know-Nothing who rules the Editorial page, would be substantially more difficult. As far as the "vast right-wing conspiracy" goes, McGuigan is pretty much half-vast at best, but the conspiracy couldn't have asked for a more consistent mouthpiece — his work over the years has been one constant harangue against the horrid government which does so many things to restrict people's freedom and yet somehow can't be bothered to persecute liberals or homosexuals, or to pick up the tab for private-school tuition for McGuigan's children. Suddenly McGuigan is now faced with something called the Opinion Board of Contributors, which includes such unlikely (for the Oklahoman, anyway) members as a rep from the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation and an actual peace activist, and which will be represented on an Op-Ed page, something Eddie Gaylord would have permitted only over his dead body.

It may be too early to dub Stan Tiner the White Knight of the Black Tower. Eddie Gaylord, even though he's off playing Nashville mogul — the Opryland properties are owned by Gaylord Entertainment, an Oklahoman offshoot that eventually went public — could theoretically come back at any time and turn back the clock. But for now, what we have is better than what we had expected, and the least we can do is give Tiner and company a chance.

Note: Yes, I am aware that the Know-Nothings, apart from their other perversities, were virulently anti-Catholic, something Pat McGuigan quite obviously isn't. Never let it be said I don't beat these metaphors into submission.

The Vent

#157
18 July 1999

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