This season the Charlotte Observer has posted letters submitted to the editor complaining about Cam Newton’s on-field dancing and most recently the birth of his son. Many Panthers fans have wondered why the primary newspaper that covers the team would publish such negative articles about Carolina’s leader and leading NFL MVP candidate.
Wednesday, the Observer’s editorial page editor, Taylor Batten, responded to those questions, giving an overview of how they select letters to publish and even addressing whether they would publish the same disparaging content if Newton were white.
Some readers are perplexed because we ran letters to the editor this week in which readers opined that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton should marry his girlfriend rather than have a child out of wedlock. We also ran letters supporting Newton and expressing confidence that he will be a great father, married or not.
This is what we do on the Opinion pages, both with letters from readers and from local and syndicated columnists. We publish opinions, from all sides, about current events (the Observer had run news of Newton’s fatherhood on the front page a few days before).
It is almost certain that any given reader will find opinions with which they agree and ones with which they disagree. That’s certainly true for those of us on the editorial board.
In Tuesday’s letters, reader Patricia Broderick of Mooresville argued that Cam hadn’t been “man enough to marry the mother of his child.” Another letter-writer, Thomas Uhl, opined that Newton’s actions contribute to a decline in “family principles.”
We ran two other letters supporting Newton. Sheila Peltzer was glad he left practice for his son’s birth, and CJ Walters expressed confidence that Newton will be a great father, married or not.
These letters reflected the sentiments of many others who wrote in on both sides. Publishing them was not an endorsement of one view or the other by the Observer, but a reflection of differing opinions within the community. It’s what we strive to do.
Some people were bewildered that the Observer would publish the letters. How could the Observer criticize the franchise quarterback during a playoff run? Why don’t we recognize all the good Newton does as a role model? Would we run a similar letter about a white quarterback?
Well, we didn’t criticize Newton. Letter-writers did. Either way, it is not a newspaper’s job to fawn over and protect home-team athletes from any criticism. The objectors know of Newton’s good deeds in the community only because we and other media outlets have reported them. And race has nothing to do with which letters we run.
I believe Taylor. I don’t think race had anything to do with the Observer’s decision to publish the articles. That was all about business. The letter from the Tennessee mom which got national news attention was probably one of the newspaper’s most popular clicks all year and clicks mean money. So when they received letters criticizing Newton for having a child out of wedlock, the powers that be decided to continue to cash in on the attention that negative Newton press garners.
Now, if we want to talk race, we must ask why these people felt the need to write the letters in the first place. That, most certainly, had to do with race. I don’t remember fans being up in arms when Tom Brady or Matt Leinhart had children out of wedlock. I don’t see the same mothers shielding their children’s eyes when Aaron Rodgers celebrates a touchdown. So, I don’t blame the Observer for trying to cash out, I blame the ignorant, racist, self-righteous fans who penned the letters.