Public Comment

Will the Chron Ever Let the People of SF Pick Their Own Mayor?

By Dave Blake
Wednesday July 13, 2011 - 12:04:00 PM

For those like me weary of the Chron's relentless record under two right-wing corporate ownerships of promoting conservative mayoral candidates (usually successfully), it's still a shock to see how blatantly they wield their power. And that's in the news sections, not the editorial. Regardless of where you stand on the question of just how progressive interim SF mayor Ed Lee may or may not be, they're at it again. So I put forth the following question: 

Should the Chronicle tone down their shameless promotion of their pet candidate for mayor? Now, that's an unfair way to frame a question, really: it assumes a fact not in evidence (like "When did you stop beating your wife?"). And that's just how the Chron is waging its campaign to get Ed Lee on the November ballot. 

With the August 12 filing deadling looming, the Chron, for all its new-found economizing thinness, has published one John Coté print article every week for the past three weeks on the subject, plus a fourth that opens with a gratuitous reference to the project ("There are plenty of City Hall types on tenterhooks about whether interim Mayor Ed Lee will change his mind and run for a full term. But we know of at least one job he clearly doesn't want: director of the Municipal Transportation Agency.") Add to that a June 16th Nevius column and a June 28th Rachel Gordon CityInsider (print version) piece. Coté is the soul of journalistic objectivity compared to Gordon, who loves to gush about the mayor's supposed coyness in frequent (mostly on-line) Insider articles. The pieces prominently highlight the non-candidate's draftability without mentioning Lee's promise not to run (unlike Coté, who to his credit cites it once an article.) Here's a sample, from Gordon's print-version contribution: '''Actually, you know, I haven't paid much attention to that, to be quite honest with you,' Lee said. But if the mayor decides to go the write-in route, a la then-Supervisor Tom Ammiano's bid for mayor in 1999, he doesn't have to pay attention to the political whirl for a long time yet." 

In fact Coté seems to be wearying of his assignment. Today's article devotes half its space to finding "Draft Lee" fans and half to the article's signature question: "Are these really grassroots movements urging Lee to add his name to the ballot or simply Astro-Turf campaigns being rolled out by seasoned political operatives to appear as if there is a political groundswell?" Even so, the section editors were on the job: the article is headlined "Backers push Lee toward race" and, on the jump page, "Backers from friends to pros call for Lee." The accompanying photos are a head shot of Lee and a picture of a carouser wearing a "Run Ed Run" tee at a "Drink a Draft of Beer to Draft Ed Lee" event, without bothering to mention the fact you can find deep in the article, that the pictured carouser (a Newsom appointee, they don't ever tell the reader that) organized the event, a $3-a-pint party which managed to draw all of 25 people.