There is no greater source of embarrassment at The Stranger than this, the so-called news section. That is a bold assertion, I will admit, given that the rest of this death rattle of a publication is devoted to illegal smut-­peddling and picayune score-settling amongst talentless members of some "scene" or another. But the news section purports to report on matters of public policy and criminal justice; to advocate the paper's position on transportation, the environment, and other serious issues; and to hold politicians accountable for their actions.

It is hard to describe just how histrionic and dishonest the paper has become on all aforementioned fronts. After rereading a year's worth of "news" sections, it is clear that the only public-policy matters The Stranger's news section truly cares about are those related to when and where the staff of The Stranger is allowed to consume alcohol and Schedule I controlled substances, which conservative public servants The Stranger feels like humiliating in a given week, what horrible crimes have been committed of late, and what the homosexuals are up to. (Full disclosure: I could not muster the spirit to finish rereading everything, so I had my assistant Marisa assemble a prĂ©cis of a year's worth of headlines and article abstracts, and matched them to my unheeded memos to Mr. Keck and the notes-to-self scarred into my frontal lobe.) Nothing, ever, not even once, about how to improve public schools, the climate for businesses in the Northwest, or any other topic of material relevance to the fuctioning of the city. And yet this section runs under the banner "CITY"—a falsehood if ever there were one.

Most of my annual memos to Mr. Keck regarding The Stranger's "news"-gathering operation have invariably fallen before blind eyes. I assure you, however, that the fact of this particular annual review being printed for public consumption does not represent a sudden sense of institutional remorse, or even, I suspect, a promise that it will be read by those who need to read it most. Rather, it is a reflection of The Stranger's full-time staff—a group of which I am not a part, out of my own insistence—being on holiday. (You'll note that they didn't take holiday last week, in honor of the birth of our Lord and Savior; they took holiday this week, to honor the most vulgar of secular holidays, the night of drinking and drug-doing and casual copulation known as New Year's Eve.)

But I shall take what opportunities I have. Judging from Marisa's notes, the news section began 2009 with an investigation (I'm tempted to put quotation marks around the word) into an inane nonevent, the "chop suey shooting." I have no memory of said nonevent, but I doubt if any right-minded person in the Western states cares about a man using his Second Amendment rights to register disgust with Oriental takeout. "Typical alarmist claptrap" is my only note in the files.

The following week brought word that the print edition of the Seattle Post-­Intelligencer would finally be giving up the Trotskyite ghost after years of failing to convince anyone that belching its radical agenda was a lucrative business model (the survival of my marina neighbor Frank Blethen's Seattle Times should answer any questions about whether conservatism is finally, and properly, ascendant in this city). At the end of his overwrought article on the looming conclusion of the printed P-I, full of maudlin journalists worrying over their 401(k)s and how many moving boxes it might take to remove their personal effects from their offices, Eli Sanders delivered a memorable quote, supposedly something a traumatized P-I staff member told him during an interview: "It's been like being on this endless flight, on this plane where the engine's on fire, and it won't crash."

(I do believe Mr. Sanders, whether through inebriated error or simple lack of candor, attributed the quote to the wrong source. That sentence is what I say to him every time I'm obliged to visit The Stranger's office—after he bats his eyes in a homosexual manner and says, "Birch, baby, how's it been?" I reply always and reiterate now: "It has been, young Mr. Sanders, like being on this endless flight, on this plane where the propeller is on fire, and it will not crash.")

The ensuing weeks and months of the "news" section were a blur of the usual ironies and idiocies: the late-January "Strangercrombie" issue, in which every section of the paper, this one included, sells itself to the highest bidder (as if that weren't always the case); some absurd garment-rending about a perfectly defensible breakfast snack, foie gras; a ludicrous attack by Dominic Holden on my old friend Jeannie Hale, president of the Laurelhurst Community Club, for her brave opposition to the idea of an influx of tuberculosis-ridden orphans into her genteel neighborhood via an expansion of a so-called children's hospital; and, finally, the accusations of "cult" behavior hurled at honest Christians who were taking time out of their busy schedules to chat with the pupils of an Everett-area public school. All of this was capped off, naturally, with the public crucifixion of a sleep-deprived woman who had the audacity to call the police "once or twice every night" about the howls emanating from a homosexual dance establishment on Capitol Hill (once or twice a night is hardly the upper limit of the number of times that homosexuals can disturb the sleep of normal citizens in an evening—she ended up calling the authorities 500-odd times, the poor woman).

We are now deep into March 2009 in this review, my friends, and you will note that we have yet to stumble upon even one tiny morsel of actual news. I am sure that none among you will be surprised to know that this trend continues. In the March 26 issue, Mr. Holden exhausted his allotted space hectoring state legislators about the "need" to decriminalize marijuana. By April, the editors had remembered that it was an election year and began commissioning incomprehensibly partisan attacks upon Susan Hutchison, whose gentle-heartedness is still spoken of among friends of mine who served on the board of the Discovery Institute with her. It is unclear what she could have done to fend off attacks from The Stranger, short of performing an abortion in public to placate the murderers of the unborn who make up this paper's editorial board.

The late spring and early summer months brought more rote bashing of men of God (the great pastor Gary Randall was labeled a "parasite"), Tom Carr (for having the audacity to prosecute "non-violent" crimes, as the liberal-apologist lexicon has it), and Senator Maria Cantwell (because, wonder of wonders, she does not take her marching orders directly from Mr. Sanders's Speak & Spell).

By August, no one with even the smallest shred of self-respect remained associated with the news section anymore. News editor Erica C. Barnett, the most sober political thinker The Stranger has had in years, had left the building for the lucrative pastures of worldwide electronic internet web­log Twitter typeset publishing, and shortly thereafter news writer Jonah Spangenthal-Lee followed. It was by way of these smart departures that we arrived at the present state of affairs: Christopher Frizzelle, the editor of The Stranger, became (disastrously) more involved in the section, Mr. Holden (who would eventually be promoted to news editor) began to cover city hall, and Mr. Sanders (who would eventually be promoted to associate editor) took up county and national politics and a grab bag of superficial stories about murderous criminals.

The remainder of 2009—though occasionally enlivened by the contributions of freelance journalists Claudia Rowe, Andrea Woo, Garrett McCulloch, Sarah Lloyd, and Jake Blumgart—will be remembered mostly for The Stranger's hyperventilating, overwrought campaign to get the quixotic, obstructionist environmentalist Mike McGinn elected mayor. As if putting Mr. McGinn on the cover of the paper during the primary didn't state the paper's position clearly enough, the weeks before the general election saw the paper commissioning a four-part series on his prophetic wisdom. Meanwhile, his opponent, an old friend of mine from business school, Joe Mallahan, became the subject of incessant ad hominem aspersions.

If there's anything more distasteful than repeatedly calling a fine manager and original thinker like Mr. Mallahan an "idiot" in print, it's the glow of smug self-regard that has descended on The Stranger ever since the election. Mr. McGinn proved victorious in spite of every credible prediction about his chances. Dow Constantine, Mike O'Brien, Sally Bagshaw, Nick Licata, Referendum ­71, and the anti–Tim Eyman campaigns all prevailed as well—over the competing and far more sensible voice of the Seattle Times. As with immature toddlers, The Stranger's newly inflated sense of itself is impossible to abide. The notion that they somehow earned all this—that The Stranger is the sole arbiter of electoral success in this town and not just the beneficiary of random electoral luck this time out—is laughable, derisible, and regrettable, as always.

And, I regret to say, I expect far worse in 2010.