Detroit Newspapers ‘Crusade’ For Auto Bailout

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By: Joe Strupp

If you’re looking for someone to fault for congress’ failure to approve an auto industry bailout, don?t blame Detroit’s two major papers.

Both The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News have been editorializing heavily in favor of some aid for their biggest local industry, especially the Free Press, which has been running pro-bailout editorials all week.

“We have had a fairly steady drumbeat series of editorials saying, ‘why can’t we get this done?'” said Ron Dzwonkowski, editorial page editor for the Free Press. “There is a real strong feeling in these parts that there was a need to pour all of this money in to Wall Street, but they cannot find a way to get this money to Detroit.”

Dzwonkowski said the Free Press began its “crusade” three weeks ago with a Sunday editorial that pushed for the “need for an emergency cash infusion.”

Since then, several other editorial pieces have run urging passage, with a string of them that began Sunday and have continued all week. Those, of course, coincide with congressional hearings on the bailout that have so far resulted in no action. Many advocate bankruptcy protection in place of a bailout.

The Sunday piece, titled, “Help for Detroit is help for all,” declared: ?” ? let’s be clear about what the U.S. government is deciding, as lawmakers in Washington begin this week to ponder extending a sensible and relatively modest package of economic help to the auto industry. The government is on the brink of deciding whether America will remain a country that makes things, or just another old industrial power struggling to find its place in the world economy.”

On Monday, the editorial stated: “Lawmakers must grasp importance of Detroit 3,” while Tuesday’s was titled, “Time runs short to save an industry.”

On Wednesday, the paper declared: “Case for auto bankruptcies makes no sense.”

“It is a survival issue for us,” said Dzwonkowski.

At the rival Detroit News, the push for action is also strong, with editorials this week titled, “Why do they hate us?” and “Big 3’s critics have got the facts wrong.”

The second one, published Tuesday, stated: “Ignorance and misinformation are the greatest obstacles facing automakers this week as they try to convince Congress that financial assistance from the government is essential to saving the industry. Few in Washington have their facts right when it comes to these companies.”

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