- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

No wisdom is regarded as conventional on the Commentary pages of The Washington Times, where a distinguished array of the nation's opinion leaders, commentators and scholars offer challenging, informed thoughts on a wide range of political, moral, economic and scientific issues.

In a media environment bombarded by calamitous claims and dubious data, Commentary turns to those best qualified to weigh the merits of the topics at hand. Forests of placards paraded for prime-time effect or press conferences orchestrated for political advantage have, in recent years, defined the way the news game is played in Washington.

Commentary does not play by the rules of that game.

Wherever possible, Commentary goes to the source of emerging ideas for enlightenment and provocative discussion. Whenever possible, Commentary punctures those hot-air balloons that others allow to drift unchallenged across the landscape.

In 1984, two years after The Washington Times was born, Mary Lou Forbes, a Pulitzer medalist from the old Washington Star, was recruited to pioneer an expanded concept in daily commentary presentation. The Times quickly moved to three pages of opinion writers per day. When the newspaper began publishing seven days a week instead of five, it added another regular day of Commentary for Saturday and an even larger section, including a full-page readers forum, for Sunday.

The continuing objective is to offer each day a stimulating menu of enlightenment that many readers conservatives, liberals and that rarest of all Washington animals, the undecided feel compelled to digest.

Commentary is especially mindful of the alienation citizens sometimes feel from their government, before and after September 11. To bridge that chasm, Commentary undertakes to clarify complex issues so readers can comprehend easily what is at stake and to make their voices heard where it counts.

Original thinking from responsible sources including the late greats Warren Brookes and Lawrence Wade attracted a devoted readership among official Washington and those who want to know what is on official Washington's mind.

Commentary seeks and imposes no homogeneity of views. From the outset, it has been committed to seeking out those viewpoints and issues that were denied readers while only one newspaper was published in the nation's capital. A burgeoning bureaucracy, cultural slippage, moral lapses, judicial overreach, regulatory excesses, scientific obfuscation and economic strangulation are but a few of the issues brought into view during the past 20 years.

In addition to the work of its dozens of regular writers, Commentary presents nationally syndicated columnists whose specialties range from political analysis to social commentary. Cal Thomas, for example, brings a traditional perspective. The Times was one of the first major newspapers to subscribe to Mr. Thomas' column, now the most widely distributed in the nation.

Cartoonist Bruce Tinsley debuted in the Commentary pages with his signature character, Mallard Fillmore, a long-suffering conservative duck who plies the trade of journalism with satirical asides about liberal and big-government follies. Having found exposure in The Times, the wisequacking duck spread his wings through national syndication.

Mrs. Forbes and her Commentary editors are award-winning journalists and writers in their own right who know how a story should be tracked down and examined. They not only provide the occasional piece of "editor's perspective," but also venture out to take firsthand looks at major developments at home and abroad. They are part of the Washington scene, meeting and mingling with opinion makers and newsmakers of every rank, discussing ideas and networking to bring in and develop informative new writers of distinction.

With Mrs. Forbes at the helm of the Commentary pages, The Washington Times became a trendsetter in the news business, giving readers a chance to match their ideas with those of far more experts than are readily available elsewhere. It's "The Times difference."

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