On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Seattle Times Endorsements Unreal

The Seattle Times endorsement of Mike McGavick is an unreal read.

I use that term because of the number of times the Times does so as they try to explain their reasoning.

Once again, we see how much they've missed the boat on these mid-term elections when they say:

Some see this election as a referendum on George W. Bush. If we did, we would be for a solid Democratic ticket.
The fact is this election will be a referendum on George W. Bush and the Republican majorities in Congress that have led us to where we are today. That the Seattles Times continues to be blind to that is amazing.

Even in their letters section today a reader writes:

today's partisan reality renders the vote of one of 435 House members inconsequential: The real impact of the election is how the elected candidate affects the party that runs the show.

Reichert may be a heck of a guy. But his election empowers a House leadership that refuses to police itself or rein in the excesses of the Bush administration. We have de facto one-party rule.

Power has gone to the heads of the House leadership like Everclear to a drunken driver. The road is strewn with the wreckage of Iraq, a massive budget deficit, Medicare D and corruption indictments. It's time to take the keys away.
There were a number of other letters today making similar points.

Then the Times lets loose with this telling comment:

Critics will note that McGavick supports the elimination of the federal estate tax, a cause for which The Seattle Times has campaigned many years. That is part of why we endorse him, but not most of it. We endorsed Cantwell six years ago, knowing her position on the estate tax, and could endorse her again.
If there was ever an indication that they have been paying attention to the progressive blogosphere it is this pro-active defense that this endorsement was not (at least not entirely) due to McGavick's support of the estate tax. After their endorsements of Reichert, McMorris and Larsen, all of whom support a repeal of the estate tax, we've been pointing at this obvious connection to publisher Blethen's pet issue. Interestingly here they don't refer to it as the "death tax", as they most often do, and as they did last week in their WA-08 endorsement piece.

The other thing that is unreal about this comment is that they say they "could endorse [Cantwell] again." Ummm... when would that be? Are you making up your mind as you write this endorsement, arguing your points out loud as you go? Or do you believe in some parallel universe in which the "good" Seattle Times editorial board does endorse the candidates the "bad" one in this universe has not?

The paper uses terms like "somewhat", and "not as much", and "not on enough" to explain their position. What kind of undefined thinking is this? It is vague, fuzzy logic, and gives the indication that they are grasping at straws in trying to defend their position.

The Times simply declares themselves the arbiter of what is real and unreal, possible or impossible, and describe those positions of McGavick that they believe are possible. Yet, are they desirable? The Times wants an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, yet that's the most unreal position of them all. All experts agree that any withdrawal from Iraq will have to be gradual regardless of public sentiment.

Once again the Seattle Times has shown their stripes through this endorsement. In many respects it simply further demonstrates how whacked their endorsement last week of Reichert was. Take this comment today on the issue of media consolidation:

The nation's democracy is at stake as giant media companies continue to calcify the country's strong need for independent voices. Cantwell understands the issue, but once again has not shown significant leadership to a very real problem. We believe McGavick's independent mind would be useful in untying the knot of media consolidation.
Contrast it with their endorsement of Reichert. At the WA-08 debate Reichert was asked for his position on this "very real problem", and he passed on answering because he wasn't familiar with the issue! Yet they never made mention of his complete ignorance on this matter in their endorsement, and the fact he obviously has shown no leadership on the matter. Wouldn't you think, given Darcy Burner's response they would say in that editorial that she would have the ability to untie the knot of media consolidation? However, that wasn't in the Reichert campaign material that they used to write their endorsement, so it was naturally conveniently left out.

In James Vesely's column in Sunday's paper he tries his hand at prognosticating and offers up the following thought:

In Bellevue, long gone are the days when incumbents such as Jennifer Dunn, and before her, Rod Chandler, were expected to win by 60-percent-plus margins. Dunn retired just as the northern part of the district was shifting toward urban and younger. The result was that a Republican with instant name recognition held on to the seat — but this time Dave Reichert faces a very different electorate.

If Democrat Darcy Burner wins in November against incumbent Reichert, the heavy weight of running as a Republican and as a first-termer will be the burden that brings him down. That will turn the 8th into another battleground district in two years, as Burner will see a fierce attempt by the Republicans to reclaim the seat.

If Reichert wins a second term, the Democrats will go away.
If Reichert wins a second term I cannot predict who his challenger would be in 2008, but it is a scenario that will not be acceptable to Democrats, and you can bet your ass (or HorsesAss!) that they will not go away lightly, and will challenge Reichert and his brand of representation ever more strongly in 2008. The demographics and politics of the 8th District are trending solidly Democratic, and that means that Reichert is a dinosaur in Congress whether he loses this year, or survives only to lose two years from now.

Maybe by that time the Seattle Times editorial board will have learned the real lessons from this election. But I won't hold my breath. I trust that voters won't be waiting for them to get with the program, and will resoundingly ignore their endorsements this election as the self-serving drivel it has proven to be.

3 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous Particle Man

If the following explanation of how things work over at the Seattle Times is even close to accurate, their editorial integrety is a thing of the distant past. This post can be put into context with the following link:

Re: The Seattle Times editorial board.

After the 2000 newspaper strike, the Times purged its editorial page staff, pushing out two former editorial board members (Casey Corr, Susan Nielsen) and hiring a non-member who crossed the picket line during the strike (Lynne Varner). At the same time, the paper removed its editorial writers from the official editorial board and created a new, five-member editorial board containing one journalist (Jim Vesely) and four reps of management (Publisher Frank Blethen, General Manager Carolyn Kelly and two extra guys named Blethen). So, since 2000, the editorial opinions of the Seattle Times have come straight from management and the Blethen family, both of which have clearly chosen elimination of the estate tax as their litmus test issue.

Recently, the Blethens relented and gave the editorial page writers back their official spots on the editorial board (while retaining the four management spots). If you figure that editorial page writer Ryan Blethen, heir to the throne, votes with the family, this gives management five spots of twelve. Throw in token conservative Bruce Ramsay and that's six of twelve. This means that any candidate opposed to removing the state or federal estate tax starts off with six of twelve board members against them. And, perhaps the journalist members remember that they were thrown off the board when they dared oppose the Blethens--even for the principled stand of going on strike with their fellow workers.

Mr. Postman, while the Times editorial board now has several actual journalists as members, the fact is that your editorial page's most important function is as a mouthpiece for the Blethen family and their fight against the estate tax. Do you disagree with this point?

Posted by J.R. at 01:40 PM, Oct 23, 2006

10/23/2006 3:18 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Thanks for that. It does indeed explain the bias. Note that today they ran a front page article about I-920, the initiative to repeal the estate tax, and in their "Who Supports" and "Who Opposes" section they left the Seattle Times out of the list, which is so blatant it borders on irresponsible. Yes, they make mention of it at the end of the article, but should have included it in the sidebars.

10/23/2006 3:44 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Here is a link to it.

10/23/2006 3:46 PM PT  

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