Suspicion of professional journalists is a big part of the conservative psyche. It goes with the territory. So when the Star announced it has a new editor, conservatives' first reaction will be skepticism. Who is John Moore? Can we trust this guy? Does he have a political agenda?
I know a little about Moore; he was my professor for two classes at California Lutheran University's graduate-level public policy program. While spending months and months studying under someone you get a feel for how someone sees the world, so I should be able to tell you where he falls on the left-right political spectrum.
There's just one problem--I have no idea.
I honestly don't know his party registration or his political beliefs. He didn't really reveal them in class, even though he engaged us frequently in discussion with a good sense of humor and affability that led to interesting classes that I always looked forward too.
He just seemed to me like a fair and honest pursuer of truth, the way a journalist should be. We only disagreed on something one time that I recall (I'm going back six years in memory here), and that was regarding using technology to increase voter turnout.
I piped up that Internet or text message voting is a scary thing, that what we want is not simply more voters but more informed voters. I have nightmares about the American Idol crowd texting in their votes for president. The small requirement that you should stop by the polling booth and spend 10 minutes probably weeds out half the people that have no idea what they're doing, a classic small-r republican position.
Moore responded that he doesn't think greater voter participation is a bad thing and probably said something in support of using technology for that purpose.
I still disagree with that very democratic idea, mostly because I think republics are superior to democracies in that they contain structures to cool the passions of "the mob" that our Founders were concerned about. In 21st century America, the mob is comprised of the people that can't name the vice president but devote their lives to getting Scotty McCreery elected the next American Idol. While I wouldn't support poll taxes, disenfranchising people, or subjecting voters to aptitude tests, I also wouldn't support text message voting or voting online from home. Travelling to the polling place (or even filling out and mailing an absentee ballot) increases the chance that a more deliberative, calm and thoughtful electorate will outnumber those who can only muster the effort to whip out their phones from their pocket to press a button.
But I respect his position. I think that Moore is coming from a commendable place--he wants everyone to be represented in the country. That's hard to argue with and it belies a kind of optimism for humanity that I don't possess, although I have a soft spot in my heart for those that do.
The only other memory I have that might shed light on how he sees the world is that he seemed to genuinely want reporters to be unbiased. What more could a conservative want from an editor! I gave a presentation on a conflict of interest a reporter had over the 2007 MacArthur Park May Day incident. Fox 11 news personality Cristina Gonzalez claimed that LAPD shoved and struck her, and went on to sue the city. Fox still put her on TV as the on-scene reporter even though she had become part of the story, and in my opinion lost her objectivity (or at least the appearance of it).
Moore seemed to agree with me that Fox should have assigned another reporter to cover the story, and interview Gonzalez for her interpretation of events. That shows me that objectivity is a priority for him. He also pointed out I said "uh" too much during my speech, which is true, I do that too much.
That's the only insight I can give. I think conservatives can rest assured that Moore isn't driven by the typical liberal ideology that infects newsrooms across the country. By the same token, we also shouldn't expect him to veer the paper to the right. Instead, I think he'll give us the closest approximation to the truth that we can reasonably expect, just like a newsman is supposed to do.