Is the Colorado Springs Gazette snookering its readers?

Check out Wednesday’s editorial titled “Our View.” It begins with the paragraph:

One of the smartest things President Bush did to reduce recovery costs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was to suspend Davis-Bacon Act rules in the hardest hit states. But Congress is frantically trying to overrule the president, which would add billions of dollars to the already staggering recovery costs.

Note that the first paragraph is identical to editorials that appeared in the Appeal Democrat (Yuba City, CA) and the Daily News (Jacksonville, NC), to name just two other papers.

It turns out the piece was written by Sean Paige, the Gazette’s editorial editor. You can read his acknowledgement in the comments here.

The author of the Op-Ed, (Sean Paige, long-time GOP operative, former press secretary for the Alan Keyes for Senate campaign, and now editorial page editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette — see a trajectory here?) even got in on the act, commenting on the blog, emailing me, and leaving a thoughtful message on my answering machine.

Just last week, Mr. Paige complained about “lemming letters” being written by members.

Now, he asserts that these shared editorials are part of a “joint content” agreement between papers. The Gazette is owned by Freedom Communications. (An article critical of this policy appears here.).

Whatever the excuse, it doesn’t pass the smell test to have unsigned editorials appear in multiple papers around the country, all of which use identical language to support the Bush Administration, without a proper disclosure. It creates the false appearance that the author’s viewpoint is shared by a wide assortment of publications nationally, when it’s just the work of one person.

A big raspberry to the Gazette on this one.