“A public demonstration of support for a particular candidate”

See? This is exactly what I was talking about on Monday:

A San Francisco Chronicle editor who gave Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry $400 has been placed on leave for possibly violating the newspaper’s rules, the newspaper said on Wednesday.

The newspaper’s letters editor, William Pates, reached at home by telephone, confirmed that he had contributed about $400 to the Kerry campaign but declined to comment on his paper’s response. Pates said he had worked for the Chronicle for the past 35 years.

“He’s on paid leave while we are investigating. We have not made any judgment at this point as to whether the policy was violated,” said editorial page editor John Diaz.

“It would be a concern to have somebody who is involved in selecting letters make what amounts to a public demonstration of support for a particular candidate.”

This is nonsense on stilts.

Hey, Mr. Diaz–would you really prefer it if your readers had no idea what you and your collegues’ politics are? (Rhetorical question–obviously, the answer is “yes.”)

How exactly are we being well-served by such a facetious pose? Isn’t it far more ethical (to say nothing of honest) if you just disclose where you’re coming from and who you’re giving to, and leave it to us to figure out what to think about it?

Mr. Diaz, you and your collegues are not higher beings–you have opinions like everybody else. Admit it! Just admit it! The poor, benighted little people whose subscriptions pay your salary can handle the truth!

Bring Mr. Pates back onto the job, and then make your policy disclosure, not secrecy and a false pretense of Olympian objectivity. Your paper will be better for it, and your readers will thank you.

Dare to be as honest as a blogger. You’ll find it as liberating as we do.

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11 Responses to ““A public demonstration of support for a particular candidate””

  1. Stephen Green Says:

    Will, I’d link to this as “Required Reading,” if it weren’t already on my damn blog!

  2. Deacon Blues Says:

    So, if you work for a newspaper you can’t contribute to a candidate? What a hypocrit.

  3. Croooow Blog Says:

    Altogether now…

    That liberal media……

  4. Larry J Says:

    Let news personnel contribute what they want to whomever they want – just require them to disclose the information. Financial reporters have been required to disclose any links to companies they discuss for a long time. Go to an outlet like MSNBC and see any article about Microsoft. Virtually every article will include the disclosure about MSNBC’s relationship to Microsoft.

    What’s wrong with having reporters include a statement like “I donated $500 to the Kerry campaign” in any article political article they write? With this, they’d be free to donate as they wish and we would know about their political leanings. Full disclosure is the way to go.

  5. David D Says:

    I wish my employer would place me on “paid leave.” Of course, that would require me to find an employer first, ideally one who finds out I gave money to a political candidate and then needs time to ‘investigate.’

    Is there a lower donation limit to this? I mean, if I become a professional journalist (easy ‘profession’ to get into, although jobs are few) can I just make a $25 donation to a party, and have the next few weeks free to party with pay?

    A San Francisco Chronicle editor is a Democrat? Oh, my goodness, what shocking news. I was reading the paper under the impression that the people writing it had no political opinions – or, at least, did not let their bias show up in pring.

    Of course, despite my precociously excellent vocabulary, I’m only two years old. . .

  6. erp Says:

    Do any of us really need a disclaimer? It’s obvious that editorial writers pick and choose what they want to write about and what letters from readers they want to publish.

    I wrote a stinging letter entitled “Film-Flam” to the ed of our local liberal rag about the Moore “documentary” that was actually printed. I imagine the thinking was that it was so outrageous, it would make their point for them that only rightwing nutcases object to Moore. Geniuses that they are, they assumed it was a typo and changed the title to Flim-Flam. So much for literacy.

    Unfortunately it must have resonated with the great unwashed because they printed many letters damning and sliming me and even a guest editorial in the Sunday edition written by an academic explaining in painful detail why it wasn’t plagiarism to rip off Bradbury’s title. Of course, I never said it was plagiarism. Moore never said he made it up. He knew everyone who read the original would make the correct assumptions and it worked.

    I received lots of emails and telephone calls supporting my courage speaking out against a film presented as a documentary when, it is in fact, a mish-mash of lies and distortions.

  7. Axel Kassel Says:

    Of course, readers would be better served by open disclosure of political views and contributions than they are by the fraudulent pose of neutrality. But I suspect the reason so many editors insist on maintaining the fiction of ‘objective’ purity is that if disclosure were required, they might have to account for their donations to political candidates in Havana and Pyonggyang.

  8. Jim Says:

    Seems to me that newspapers in this country were expected to be highly partisan – thus the protection in the First Amendment. So what is wrong with a paper coming right out and saying who they support and what their political viewpoint is? It isn’t like we can’t figure it out anyway.

  9. The Moderate Voice Says:

    Another Raise Eyebrow, Courtesy Of The Press

    Whoops, here we go again! Another example of the American Press stubbing its toe…which causes the public to scream OW! in terms of credibility. This time we see the latest in journalistic slapstick via the San Francisco Chronicle where, as

  10. Mike Says:

    So the Opinions Page editors aren’t allowed to have an opinion of their own?

    Oookaay.

  11. PressThink Says:

    Unity and the Ovation for John Kerry: Letters to the Debate, 1-3

    Here’s my letter to Romenesko and Instapundit and one from a journalist, Linda Picone, former Star Tribune. Me: “Diversity hiring assumes that minority journalists will exert and express themselves within the profession.” Picone: “I wonder why anyon…

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