Columns » John Brummett

Obama for Benton County



News is something out of the ordinary. It is news, therefore, when a newspaper owned by a Republican and published in a lopsidedly and fervently Republican community endorses Barack Obama for president.

The newspaper in question is the Benton County Daily Record. It's part of the Northwest Arkansas publishing foothold of Walter Hussman. He's the Steve Forbesian publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, which endorsed John McCain for president.

Benton County is the uncommonly prosperous one tucked in the extreme northwest nook of the state. There you'll find Rogers, the retirement mecca called Bella Vista and the town of Bentonville, headquarters of the very corporate essence of modern Republican America, meaning Wal-Mart. Republicans typically win this county two-to-one.

My job is to observe and comment on newsworthy occurrences such as this, especially when these newsworthy occurrences have to do with politics.

That put me on the telephone the other day with the editor and editorial writer for this Benton County Daily Record. It was a tad odd, my presuming to ask them about their business and making an issue of an editorially expressed political view that was counter-intuitive to the prevailing readership.

After all, my stock in trade is the same kind of counter-intuitive politics as published in the same region in the competing Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, which, while indulging my center-left ramblings five times a week, did take the conventional action of a formal endorsement the other day of the cranky, idea-depleted McCain.

Kent Marts is the editor and general manager of the Benton County Daily Record. He was altogether forthcoming in response to my inquiries. He told me the endorsement was decided on by an editorial board consisting of himself, the managing editor, the editorial page editor and Jeff Jeffus, the general executive overseer of Hussman's two properties in the region, the other in Fayetteville.

Marts said the paper endorsed George Bush in 2000 and 2004 and, more often than not, backs Republicans. He said this particular aberration did not signal any editorial redirection in the newspaper and figured that, individual situations aside, the Republican leaning would almost assuredly continue. He said this anomaly simply signaled what it signaled, which is that, in this case and at this juncture, these four dudes on this editorial board preferred Obama over McCain.

Have you had mass subscription cancellations?

“Define mass,” Marts replied.






“Yeah,” Marts said, adding, though, that three folks had come in and newly subscribed.

Marts said no one ran the editorial past Hussman beforehand and that nothing had been heard from him since.

This Benton County paper also endorsed the sometimes-liberal Democrat Bill Williams of Bella Vista for county judge over retiring state Sen. David Bisbee, a moderate Republican. On any other day, that would have warranted an entire column of its own. But there's no way I'm writing about these rascals twice.


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