The Johnson City Press has never been a fan of State Representative Matthew Hill. This is no surprise, as the Press, like most newspapers nowadays, is – shall we say – rather liberal-leaning.

In the Seventh District in 2006, Fred Phillips was the candidate of choice for the Press. This year, I’m sure we will see, their candidate will be Todd Smith. The Press generally finds itself on the side of the “anti-Hill.”

This weekend’s editions gave us a couple of examples of the continued Hill-hating at the Press.

Robert Houk’s column was essentially a smattering of “I hate Matthew Hill,” “I hate Conservative Christians,” and “Oh, something about the AFA.”

Houk began by accusing Hill of using his newborn son as a “campaign prop,” citing a mailer that went out a few weeks ago highlighting Hill’s pro-life record. Hill actually asked me about this particular mailer before – and after – it went out. I thought it was a great idea. Many times one doesn’t realize just how pro-life you are until you have a child of your own, and showing baby Hill’s ultrasound pic was a great way, in my opinion, to reveal Matthew’s personal pro-life revelation.

Besides, if I can be disgustingly political for a moment, voters like candidates with kids, especially if you’re running on a pro-family platform.

So, Houk didn’t like Matthew’s pro-life mailer. No big surprise there.

Then, however, Houk went on a tirade against the American Family Association, citing a web-flub that reported an Olympic runner named “Tyson Homosexual” had done well in the 100-meter sprint and a ban of McDonald’s due to their support of the homosexual movement.

Do what, now?

I am, even a couple of days after reading the article, still terribly confused about how we got from Matthew Hill to the American Family Association’s questionable web programs and boycotts. Oh, right. It’s called “diversion.”

Houk then moves on to a paragraph on Todd Smith in which Smith calls Hill “woefully ineffective.” Instead of focusing on what Smith would do to be “more effective,” however, Houk simply talks about Smith’s “Night at the Ballpark.” Way to avoid the issues.

Houk finishes up his column by letting us know that Gov. Bredesen will be supporting “Republican” Kent Williams in Carter County.

As if Houk’s column wasn’t enough, the Press featured a political brief in which Todd Smith criticizes Matthew Hill for accepting special interest money.

I’m no fan of PAC’s, to be sure, but the press release issued by Smith should have been a mail piece, rather than a “Political Brief” in the Johnson City Press. Oh, right. I forgot. Smith doesn’t have any money. How convenient that the Press was willing to print Smith’s criticisms and save him a buck or two.

I certainly support an opinion writer’s right to criticize candidates – criticizing politicians is one of my favorite things to do – but a newspaper’s job is to report the facts (other than, of course, in the op-ed section, where Houk’s column appears). When a paper is so blatantly slanted in one direction, it’s clear they need to hire some writers to report the other side of the fence. Much of what appears in the Johnson City Press as political news would be better suited for a blog. This, my friends, is why I don’t waste my money on a subscription to the Press and why newspapers all over the country are facing hard times.

While they may cite an increase in internet usage as the reason that no one wants a newspaper subscription anymore, it’s really the fact that newspapers, just like TV news, are so politically slanted that most people find them irrelevant. Personally, I like holding a crisp newspaper in my hand, reading something not on a computer screen, but why waste my time? I can predict exactly what an article is going to say as soon as I see the headline.

If the Press wants to offer some hard-hitting articles actually comparing candidates – being both critical and supportive of all candidates when appropriate – then maybe I’ll take the time to pick up a paper. As long as they’re merely offering the same old slanted “news,” however, I’ll pass.