Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chavez Shafted by The Tennessean

I learned from Volunteer Voters that former The Tennessean columnist Tim Chavez has been denied an opportunity to return to his former position after having gone through a period of disability with leukemia. Mr. Chavez was told that his position had been eliminated, although the paper has simultaneously brought in a new columnist, local talk radio personality Phil Valentine.

Mr. Chavez is being described as the paper's "conservative columnist," but the larger story of his career at the paper is more interesting. The columnist came to Nashville with fairly liberal views, especially on economic issues, and he moved rightward gradually over time. Much of his rightward movement resulted from a growing sense that the political left, while paying lip service to the disadvantaged in society, actually did very little to improve their lot.

As he moved to the right, Mr. Chavez never sought to strive for intellectual consistency as much as he tried to find political principles that would aid the people that he most cared about and that he believed liberalism had failed. Thus, his writing could be unpredictable and inconsistent at times, which had the effect of making his column more interesting. That he has been treated in this manner by his former employer is galling. That he has been replaced by a predictable, knee jerk conservative who frequently sleep walks through his shtick adds insult to injury.

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