Sorry, Ms. Jackson
A right way to be biased: It’s pretty much day one in high-school journalism class when they tell would-be reporters about remaining objective, unbiased, fair, etc. Don’t take cash bribes from sources, or pay for an interview, or stick a “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper sticker on the company car.
Well, apparently the folks over at Capitol Television News Service (CTNS) skipped high-school journalism and went straight to the big time. CTNS news reporter Mary Jackson donates cash to the Democratic State Central Committee. And her boss doesn’t care.
OK, OK. It was just 115 bucks—$70 on March 23 and another $45 on May 25, according to campaign-finance records from the secretary of state.
But CTNS covers politics, sending TV news packages to more than two dozen subscriber stations throughout the state and in southern Oregon.
Staffers in the Capitol are buzzing about the donations, so Bites decided to call Jackson’s boss, founder of CTNS Steve Mallory.
“Omigod! Jesus Christ. The union’s in jeopardy,” Mallory quipped. “I know exactly what she contributed and to what end. Does it concern me? No. Why should it?”
Well, there’s the fact that openly favoring one party with cash might cause your sources and viewers to doubt your work.
And sorry, Ms. Jackson, but Bites is seriously disappointed in you—not because you financially support tax-hiking socialists, but because you don’t know how to hide the money. When Bites wants to throw dough at the American Independent Party, it’s listed on public records as coming from Bites’ spouse, who is neither a journalist nor objective. Tricky, eh? You, too, could simply funnel your soft money through a loved one.
Jackson inspired Bites to search more records, looking for “reporters” foolish enough to list their job titles and employers alongside their campaign donations. Sadly, no Bee staffer has recently been dense enough to list his or her occupation as “journalist” alongside a contribution. But it turns out a lot of journalists from smaller publications, such as African-American and gay-oriented newspapers, openly donate to political causes. Bites supposes it’s not so shocking when editors and other employees of the gay-run Bay Area Reporter put their Ben Franklins behind gay-friendly candidates. But if these are the new rules, don’t be surprised when Bites cuts a check for half a day’s work to help out Mary Carey’s 2006 run for lieutenant governor.
Speaking of politically ambitious pornographers: A few weeks back—loyal SN&R readers may recall—there was a sudden and rather clumsy outbreak of censorship at government buildings around town. (See “Sense and sensibility,” SN&R News, July 28.)Caltrans honchos had ordered this newspaper gone from a public cafe in the 1820 Alhambra Boulevard building because one or more employees were offended by some of the racier advertising in the paper (one even filed a sexual-harassment complaint with the agency).
Then, SN&R racks were ordered removed from a federal Bureau of Reclamation building on Cottage Way because at least one employee objected to what he or she perceived as the newspaper’s political bias. (Bites is assuming that it was that socialist eco-terrorist Jill Stewart the federal worker couldn’t stomach.) Both banishments were clearly illegal; the courts established long ago that you can’t remove a newspaper from a public place just because you don’t like what it has to say.
Now it seems the government lawyers at both agencies have done a little research of their own and somewhere stumbled upon the First Amendment.
Bites received this statement Monday morning from Caltrans spokesman David Anderson: “Several of our employees found the publication offensive. Out of caution, we removed the publication, pending legal review. Following that review, the department has determined it will return the publication to Caltrans property.”
Within an hour of this happy news, Bites got word that the paper would be welcomed back to its old home at the federal building on Cottage Way, as well.
Bites is officially back in love with America. And to those upright citizens we may have offended unintentionally, thanks for reading!