A Brief History of the Editorial Page of the 'New York Observer'

Today, the whole world, pretty much, is making fun of the New York Observer’s editorial defending Rupert Murdoch. (It is pretty funny and ridiculous. But you know, it’s tricky! The majority owner of the Observer has spent a good deal of time on Rupert Murdoch’s boat, at least since his wedding, when he became more attractive socially, and honestly, instead of being a conflict of interest, I look at this as an informed viewpoint. That’s what publishers are for!) But, for those just getting their first exposure, the Observer’s editorial page has always been wildly wonky and fun. I mean, the other week we got an editorial headlined “PEDESTRIANS BEWARE,” about allowing bikes in Central Park. “Cycling enthusiasts on the Upper West Side are delighted. The older, more-traditional residents of the Upper East Side are angry and frightened.” Ha ha! Yes, those more-traditional bikeless residents of the Upper East Side. Oh, ARTHUR CARTER, MINORITY OBSERVER OWNER, YOU OLD SCOUNDREL. (Or… Joe Conason? Is that you?) But the page gets so much better. It’s way funner than that new house of bloated horrors, Bloomberg View!

Here’s from one of my other recent favorites:

If Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, Independence Day is the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. With the school year over at last, families are getting ready for their long-planned holidays. Other New Yorkers are fleeing to the Hamptons, Cape Cod or the Jersey Shore for weekend respites from the city’s stale air and oppressive humidity.

The city will not, of course, be vacant come August.

IT WON’T? ARE YOU SURE? How would we ever know?

Then it goes on about how we should be nice to tourists!

Still, the page is way more sane than it used to be, at least when it’s not cheerleading grossly for charter schools. A few years back, there was a long outraged editorial about the Puerto Rican parade and how the City needed to be saved from this menace. No joke: “For the past several years, the parade has been an embarrassment to New York, transforming Fifth Avenue and Central Park into a slovenly garbage heap.” My goodness.

This ran at the bottom of the page, under an editorial describing the firing of Howell Raines as “one of the larger mistakes in The Times’ history.” GOOD STUFF. There’s so much more! But really: we must celebrate this beloved institution and its unique viewpoint!

(OH PS: Here’s a great one I forgot! “It is clear now that we have made a terrible mistake, for Hillary Rodham Clinton is unfit for elective office. Had she any shame, she would resign. If federal officeholders were subject to popular recall, she’d be thrown out of office by springtime, the season of renewal.” Love it!)