Joel Connelly, long time columnist for the Seattle P-I, writes in his blog:
The Seattle Times announced Wednesday that it will develop and run ads for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna as an “independent expenditure” that is supposed to show the value of political advertising in newspapers.
The news, three weeks before the November election — and appearance of a big Times-created McKenna ad on page B6 of the newspaper’s Wednesday editions — immediately raised two questions:
Can Seattle Times reporters and editors be trusted to fairly cover McKenna’s opponent Jay Inslee? Can the newspaper fairly report on a campaign where the Times has a vested financial interest in the outcome?"
“There is absolutely no interface between our news coverage and this effort: We realize some people may question the approach, but we hope they will give us the benefit of the doubt as we try an innovative approach to new revenue and, at the same time, raise awareness of the credibility and effectiveness of newspaper advertising for political campaigns,” Jill Mackie, the Times’ vice president for public affairs, said in an e-mail."
According to Jim Brunner, a Times political reporter, the news department was not a part of this decision, leaving us to wonder if Frank Blethen is once again using the Times as his personal soap box.
Connelly continues, "In announcing the “Seattle Times Initiative for Political Newspaper Advertising,” the newspaper stated:
“Our involvement in this (McKenna-Inslee) race will be via an independent expenditure in which The Seattle Times runs ads that have in no way been coordinated with the McKenna campaign. As required by law, we will report such contributions to the Public Disclosure Commission.
“Independent expenditures are allowed under Washington State law and are not subject to limits on spending.”
The ad on B6 extolled McKenna as an architect of “change that will make us all proud.” It carried the disclaimer that the ad was paid for by the Seattle Times and “no candidate paid for this ad.”
The Times is also making an “in kind donation of ad space” to the Washington United for Marriage, the campaign to approve Referendum 74 and same-sex marriage on the November ballot.
“This political advertising initiative was developed as a one-time approach for this election to demonstrate the effectiveness of political advertising in the Seattle Times,” Fairview Fannie added in its statement."
Well we are SHOCKED!! Shocked, I tell you! The Seattle Times, endorsing a Republican???? Nawwwwwwwwww.
Connelly writes: "It twice backed Republican Dino Rossi against incumbent Gov. Chris Gregoire. In the 1960′s and 1970′s, the newspaper supported GOP Gov. Dan Evans as well as Gov. John Spellman, the last Republican to hold the state’s top executive job.
The newspaper, in years gone by, has allowed its biases to leave the editorial page for the front page. It ran major front-page hit pieces on Democratic Gov. Al Rosellini in 1964, and gave front-page play to the gambling activities of 1968 Democratic gubernatorial candidate John O’Connell.
Will this transparent effort to elect McKenna pay off? In the August primary, Inslee beat McKenna 3-to-2 in votes in King County.
What do you think?