- Editorial Page Editor of the "Boston Globe"
- Previously worked for five years as a political reporter for the far-left, underground "Boston Phoenix"
Renee Loth is the Editorial Page Editor of the Boston Globe, New England’s largest and most influential newspaper. She came to prominence in July 2000 when, weeks after taking her present job, she suspended this very liberal newspaper’s only conservative columnist, Jeff Jacoby.
On May 15, 2000 Renee Loth, then 47, replaced the Globe’s retiring Editorial Page Editor David Greenway. In a move many see as emblematic of the political slant of today’s Boston Globe, Loth put Jacoby on a four-month unpaid suspension.
The pretext was that Jacoby had done a July 4th column about the Founding Fathers that “was not entirely original” because it resembled (but did not plagiarize) elements of such a history circulating on the Internet.
The effect of this calculated suspension was to silence the Globe’s only conservative voice during precisely the entire four months leading up to the 2000 presidential election.
Greenway, although himself a liberal, in 1994 had hired Jacoby away from the rival Boston Herald to bring a tiny glimmer of diversity to the monolithically-Leftist newspaper. Weeks after replacing Greenway, Loth eliminated that token diversity. The action, wrote Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute, “smells like a journalistic purge.”
“This had absolutely nothing to do with ideology,” insisted Loth, who hired two “conservative” feminists to fill Jacoby’s space. One was Cathy Young, now also columnist with the libertarian magazine Reason, who has been criticized by some conservatives. The other, Jennifer Cabranes Braceras, was a lawyer and the daughter of Federal Judge Jose Cabranes, a Clinton appointee to the bench.
But even media critic Dan Kennedy of Loth’s former home the Boston Phoenix took Jacoby’s side. He noted that the Globe’s City Hall bureau chief had been caught red-handed asking for written recommendations to a Harvard fellowship from the Mayor and others he was supposed to cover without fear or favor. But this reporter, caught asking for and accepting favors with a potential financial benefit for himself comparable to taking a bribe, was not suspended without pay like Jacoby, nor was he fired. The Globe, perhaps with an eye to his profiteering skills, merely reassigned this reporter to its Business section. As Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center observed, this corrupt-but-Politically-Correct Boston Globe reporter “never missed a check.”
And Loth, described by Jacoby as “very sharply left,” did more than suspend him over what many journalists saw as a trifle. She also said that if he returned, his column would require a “serious rethink.” And, noted Bandow, she goaded Jacoby to resign, saying: “Four months is a long enough time that he may feel he wants to find another job. That’s certainly his right.”
Loth holds a journalism degree from Boston University, where she edited the campus newspaper during the 1970s. She then edited the radical activist East Boston Community News.
“The job hooked her on advocacy journalism,” wrote Cynthia K. Buccini in an article about Loth in the Fall 2001 Boston University alumni quarterly Bostonia. (“Advocacy journalism” is the practice of deliberately selecting and slanting news stories to produce a desired political effect.)
Loth then worked for five years as political reporter for the Boston Phoenix, an “underground” newspaper that at the time was in many ways ideologically to the left of the Communist Party USA. This was when and where Sidney Blumenthal, later a high political strategist and operative in the Clinton White House, was writing what one critic called “Marxist screeds” in the Boston Phoenix, the launch pad of Blumenthal’s journalistic and political career.
Following a stint as associate editor at New England Monthly magazine, Loth was hired in 1985 by the Boston Globe as a staff writer for its Sunday magazine. She was soon promoted to cover then-Governor Michael Dukakis and other politicians in the Globe’s State House bureau. She became the Globe’s political editor in 1993, the year of The New York Times takeover, and was elevated to deputy editor of the editorial page, in line to replace Greenway, a year later.
Loth has received awards from many left-leaning organizations, including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the welfare-statist Massachusetts Human Services Coalition, and that Democratic Party auxiliary called the National Women’s Political Caucus. She has been a Fellow at the Radcliffe Public Policy Institute and an undergraduate study group leader at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
She is married to jazz pianist Bert Seager, with whom she lives in the Boston suburb of Brighton.