Monday, January 13, 2003

Give Buckingham a chance. She has no obvious qualifications, as I wrote last month. Her conflicts of interest make one's head spin, as Northeastern University School of Journalism director Steve Burgard argues. Certain elements of the newsroom are skeptical, to put it mildly (third item). But the Herald today, as expected, announced that former Massport director and Republican political operative Virginia Buckingham will be the paper's new deputy editorial-page editor.

So let me be counterintuitive for a moment. Buckingham is young, smart, and hardworking. She's a moderate conservative, presumably live-and-let-live on cultural issues. One fear is that she'll serve as a mole -- a back channel from the Herald to her Republican friends. But is that really fair? After 9/11, Buckingham was pretty much hung out to dry by everyone. The Weld-Cellucci-Swift crowd (though not Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci themselves) piled on. As for the new crowd, Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with aides to former state treasurer Joe Malone, against whom Buckingham fought as a top political aide to Cellucci in 1998.

In other words, there's every reason to believe that Buckingham is finished with politics and wants to do a good job at the Herald. She deserves a chance to prove it.

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