EDITORIAL: Reader response to Pitts polarized

A couple weeks ago, we asked readers to weigh in on one of our weekly syndicated columnists, Leonard Pitts.

And, did you ever.

The number of replies demonstrated two things. First, that a lot of readers take the opinion pages seriously, and we thank you for that. Second, the responses drove home a point becoming more and more apparent over the past year. That is, there’s nearly no middle ground in opinions today, or in America.

Respondents either loved Pitts or hated him. In fairness, that could likely be that those in the middle simply weren’t interested to respond like the readers with strong opinions.

The reason for our query was that the Pulitzer Prize columnist seemed to “have gone off the reservation.” We called him a two-trick pony — racism and Donald Trump.

We wrote, “He’s kind of like the crazy uncle you keep in the attic, hoping that soon he’ll come back down and have supper with the family.”

While the responses were very pointed, the large majority of the letters and phone messages were thought provoking and rational arguments for or against.

A minority wrote in not so much in opposition to Pitts, but in favor of Larry Elder.

In hindsight, Elder was a poor choice on our part. If we were looking to replace a far left-leaning columnist with a writer of the same ilk, Elder was not the one. He describes himself as a social liberal but a fiscal conservative. We would need to find a “lefter” replacement if Pitts was to go.

In deciding what to do with Pitts, we couldn’t simply tally up the letters and calls for or against his column.

His replacement, again, would need to be liberal, because we try very hard to keep the pages balanced right and left. But we understood that most of the calls against Pitts were from the far right, which would oppose any liberal columnist.

In the end, we found the supporters’ arguments more compelling. Mary Carreras wrote, “He is a passionate…

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