Tag Archives: Seattle Times

Something new for me

No, not bashing the Seattle Times. I’ve been known to do that a from time to time. What was new for me was rolling out a coordinated Twitter rant, or thread if you will, on this incomprehensibly biased piece of reporting at the Seattle Times.

I was really surprised about how hard it was to prepare and how nervous I was about posting it. Have a look, leave a comment and retweet!


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Filed under Media, Seattle Times, Washington

The Seattle Times; Keeping It Classy

sIn the frenzy leading up to the U.S. Open, Craig Smith, writing at the Seattle Times, compares the excitement of a major sporting event being held in Seattle’s “backyard” (I’m sure the residents University Place just love that characterization) to a natural disaster that killed 57 people – the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980.

But if you allow yourself, you can share the excitement of having one of the world’s major sporting events held in your backyard. It’s like when Mount St. Helens erupted. If you were around in 1980, you probably felt like an insider when East Coast friends called to ask about it.

The Seattle Times is no stranger to insensitive reporting on Mount St. Helens, publishing, if memory serves me, a photograph of two small boys in the back of a pickup truck, where they had first stripped off their clothes trying to keep cool in the intense heat of the blast, and ultimately perished, only to be stripped again… of the dignity they should have been allowed in death.

If that photo was meant to engender empathy on behalf of the victims, it doesn’t seem to have worked with Mr. Smith, whose memory of the event is, apparently, dominated by the excitement and sense of importance he felt when given the chance to fill in details for distant friends and family. Rather than the sadness and awe normal people would feel at the loss of life and the unfettered power of Mother Nature.

How shallow. “Watch the U.S. Open your best chance to feel like an insider since Mount St. Helens erupted!”

So, yeah. Keep it classy, Seattle Times. Keep it classy.

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Random Rants, Seattle Times Edition

Joni Balter

Not many people are as self-satisfied and self-important as Joni Balter. She’s recently penned two op-eds, not on any topic with relevance to the real issues facing voters in this election, but something even more important; the race for newspaper endorsements. And of course by this vital yardstick, Dino Rossi may as well concede the race now.

I’m not even sure why this was stretched out to to pieces; they’re nearly identical. From the first piece, published on 10/14:

People ask editorial writers from time to time about newspaper endorsements — how much do they really change voters’ minds? In local races, such as school boards or city councils or county councils, they matter a ton. In statewide contests, like the U.S. Senate contest, endorsements always have an impact but it is harder to measure because there is so much other inpurt. Have you turned on your TV lately?

My take on endorsements in contests of this magnitude is they, especially if they are plural and there are a fair number of them, become part of the narrative and momentum of an election.

And from the second, published on 10/25:

Newpaper readers and media critics often ask how much weight newspaper endorsements carry in an election as big and fiery hot as the current U.S. Senate race in Washington state.

Such endorsements count quite a bit in races for school boards or city councils or county councils. In a bigger statewide race such as the contest between Democratic incumbent Patty Murray and Republican Dino Rossi, the impact of a single endorsement is less clear, because there is so much other input. Indeed, the television has become a Halloween-scary place.

My own sense of it is a grouping of endorsements, several in a row, can be quite powerful. And the advantage, therefore, goes to Murray.

Honestly, did Balter just forget what she wrote or was she so enamored of her own cleverness she just had to repeat herself? And which is it: do people ask this question of vital importance “from time to time” or “often?” Honestly, it’s never occurred to me to wonder. My assumption has always been that newspaper endorsements are handed out to advance the agendas of the various editorial boards.

But here’s the money quote, pulled from the second piece:

For all the blather about how tired everybody supposedly is of Murray, it seems newspaper editorial writers and publishers, who really know the work and impact of this senator, are not ready to throw out a talented public servant like Murray.

So here’s the deal.

Not only is making endorsements inherently self-important; not only does Balter choose to write about how important these endorsements are – Twice! In less than two weeks! – she takes it a step further by implying that editorial boards are far more qualified to judge the candidates because they’re so much better informed than their readers. And probably just smarter, too.

Not Present and Accounted For

Of course, she may have a point about the Times’ readers being ill-informed. If you were relying on the Times to keep you informed of news in the WA-01 contest between James Watkins and Jay Inslee, you’d be, well, ill-informed as well as completely unaware that the two debated on October 18th.

You’d also be unaware that the Watkins campaign had been desperately trying to get Inslee to agree to a debate since August, and that when he finally did agree, he set a date, time and place nearly guaranteed to ensure minimal press coverage (and it appears he was successful; none of the local television stations covered the debate and when last I checked, only the Kitsap Sun had given the debate any coverage).

You would, however, know that the gubernatorial candidates in Rhode Island will be debating tonight.

Apparently the Times is aware that fact that face time with Inslee doesn’t always endear him to his constituents. So as Balter bashes Times subscribers as ill-informed, the news department makes sure they stay that way. Sweet.

Endorsement Brain Twister

Try and wrap your head around this.

Back in June, Ryan Blethen announced that the Times would be taking “a new, hard look at elections and government” and added, “The editorial page will also explain to readers and lawmakers why government needs to be reset. We will examine the need for fiscal responsibility on the local, state and national level.”

Given that, a trip through the Times’ endorsements on the federal level is likely to leave the reader confused. Their list of endorsed candidates includes all the incumbents – Democrats Inslee, Larsen and Smith in the House and Murray in the Senate – plus Democrat Suzan DelBene in the 8th District running against incumbent Dave Reichert and Democrat Denny Heck in the 3rd District, running against Jaime Herrera for Brian Baird’s open seat.*

In other words, a full slate of Democrats. The party that did this to the federal budget deficit.

I wonder how the Times editorial board imagines that returning proven big spenders to Washington, along with some newcomers who are just as likely to vote for ever higher taxes and more spending will “reset government?” It’s a conundrum.

*As far as I can tell, the Times made no endorsements in the 6th and 7th Districts, seats currently held by Norm Dicks and Jim McDermott, respectively, but I could have missed them. Of course, Baghdad Jim probably needs no endorsement running, as he is, in the Soviet of Seattle.

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Filed under Dino Rossi, Journalism, Media, Patty Murray, Washington

Suzan DelBene, Microsoft, The Seattle Times And Kid Gloves

A lot of hay has been made in California over the course of the past several months about Carly Fiorina’s leadership at HP; a quick Google search turns up article after article about the California Senate race that mention, usually in unflattering terms, the company’s fortunes – or lack thereof – during her tenure as CEO.

Contrast this with the treatment Suzan DelBene (D) is receiving in her WA-08 campaign against Dave Reichert. From DelBene’s Microsoft bio:

Suzan DelBene, corporate vice president of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft Corp., oversees all marketing efforts for the division, including for Windows Mobile software for Pocket PCs, Smartphones and Portable Media Centers, and the Windows CE operating system. Snip… DelBene, who returned to Microsoft in February 2004 after having served at the company from 1989 to 1998, brings a deep set of product management, marketing and business development skills to Microsoft’s wireless industry efforts.

Her own campaign bio proudly makes note of her time at Microsoft*.

One of just a handful of women serving in a senior leadership position at the company, she ran worldwide sales, marketing, and product management for the company’s mobile technology efforts.

You don’t have to be a technology geek to be aware that Microsoft isn’t exactly a giant in the world of mobile communications. A recent Seattle Times article notes:

Five years ago, the company’s PC-think appeared to slow its momentum in the mobile world. It seemed unable to turn on a dime when the iPhone came out, it may have underestimated the consumer market and it made a few bets that just went wrong.

The “five years ago” mentioned in the article would be about a year into DelBene’s stint as VP of Mobile Communications at Microsoft. She was still at the helm in 2007, a “watershed” year.

The watershed year was 2007. Microsoft made some incremental updates and called it Windows Mobile 6.0. A few months later, Apple unveiled the iPhone.

In the fall, Google announced Android, a free mobile operating system. Developers flocked to both platforms to build programs for their respective app stores. Microsoft, which has historically had the strongest developer support among the tech powerhouses, had no app store until 2009.

“It was a story of a missed opportunity,” said Matt Rosoff, a former analyst at independent research firm Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland who’s now with the Silicon Alley Insider news site.

Nowhere is DelBene’s involvement with the Windows Mobile product mentioned, which might be understandable, given that this is a business story, but an ostensible news article published in the Times on September 26th that specifically discusses her Microsoft experience and how her campaign is using that experience to persuade voters also fails to mention it. In fact, the story reads as though it were lifted intact from a DelBene press release. Given the Times’ endorsement of DelBene, I find their failure to qualify her Microsoft experience to be disturbing.

Side note and slightly off topic:

It’s also worth knowing that prior to Microsoft, DelBene was CEO at Nimble Technologies (and isn’t it ironic that DelBene was CEO of a company called Nimble, when her leadership at Microsoft appeared to be anything but). Her time there doesn’t appear to have been a rousing success, either. Started in 1999 with $30 million in venture capital, it was sold in 2003 for less than $10 million.

DelBene is claiming that her “real-world leadership experience” and “ability to solve problems, create opportunities, and get things done” qualify her to replace Dave Reichert as the 8th District’s U.S. Representative, but I wonder if she has the kind of experience we need in Washington D.C.

*DelBene appears to be proud of the time she spent at Microsoft and Nimble Technologies, but not of her service on the Board of Trustees of Reed College.

(H/T Merlock’s Murmurings and @bryanmyrick)


Filed under 2010 Senate Races, Media, Washington

A Rare Convergence Of Politics And Citizenship

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s concerns about the constitutionality of the Senate health care reform legislation led him to join with other Republican AGs in protesting the deal.

In an interview today, McKenna said he believes that provision could violate Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which says Congress may collect taxes for the “general welfare” of the U.S., not for a special benefit for a particular state.

“We think it’s constitutionally defective. We’re continuing to research it,” McKenna said. And apart from the legality, “it just doesn’t seem right,” he added.
He said he may also look into whether it would be constitutional for the federal government to require all U.S. residents to purchase health insurance.

McKenna said that mandate may violate the 10th Amendment, which limits the powers of the federal government – reserving other powers for the states.

“The U.S. government has never before required the citizens of the U.S. to buy a particular good or service,” McKenna said. He stopped short of saying he’d launch a legal challenge on that basis. “We need to do more work on it,” he said.

While the Seattle Times new-found conservative streak causes them to object to Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback” deal – even to hope that a court will “strike it down” – it doesn’t stop them from concluding that the Republican AGs are acting with a political motive, even though it just as possible that they’re acting because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve heard AG McKenna speak about the Constitution; his knowledge of and respect for it are impressive. There’s no reason to assume that he’s acting for any motive other than a belief that the Constitution actually is the law of the land. To do so is merely to prove that political biases are hard to shed.

Personally, I’m just grateful that someone is willing to take a look at the constitutionality of the health care monstrosity and if this happens to be one of those times when good politics happens to coincide with good citizenship, that’s okay by me.

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You Know You’ve Got Trouble

"Don't blame me if you have crappy Senators"

When even the left-leaning Seattle Times questions the constitutionality of your legislation, you know you’ve got trouble.

SEN. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., exacted a special price for his vote on the Senate health-care bill. Opening up the Medicaid program to 15 million more Americans over the next decade will cost the states billions of dollars — but not Ben Nelson’s state. For Nebraska, the cost, estimated at $100 million through 2016, will be paid by the federal government.

The Republicans called this the “Cornhusker Kickback.” It is a cute way to label it corruption — which it is. It is the bending of a federal law in order to buy the vote of one legislator.

Federal law is supposed to be uniform. It’s a concept that shines through several places in the Constitution, which calls for a “uniform rule of Naturalization” and “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies.”

When they double down and call the deal corruption, it’s serious.

The Republicans called this the “Cornhusker Kickback.” It is a cute way to label it corruption — which it is. It is the bending of a federal law in order to buy the vote of one legislator.

For the record, I don’t hold Senator Nelson – or Senator Landrieu, who seems a bit confused as to why people don’t believe she “can’t be bought” (@ 0:45) – any more responsible for the passage of the Senate health care monstrosity than any of the other 59 rank and file Democrat Senators. I’m saving that “honor” for Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who apparently believes that every piece of legislation should be loaded up with pet projects…and if any states miss out, it’s just a poor reflection on their Senators.

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Seattle Times Files Legal Challenge

Bryan Myrick at Red County just broke this news:

…[T]he Seattle Times has filed a motion with King County Superior Court in challenge to the restraining order placed Wednesday on documents pursuant to a public records request by Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times in mid-October. Ervin’s request was for all documents that contained information about allegations made against current councilman and candidate for King County executive Dow Constantine of inappropriate behavior. Shortly after an undetermined number of documents was handed over by county officials to Ervin, a temporary restraining order was filed on behalf of a “Jane Doe” presumed to be named in certain papers. (Read our previous stories here and here.)

Kudos to the Seattle Times for pursuing this story. Now Mr. Constantine can rest comfortably in the knowledge that there are no obstacles to the facts of the matter being made public. Heh.

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Is Dow Constantine Having a “David Letterman” Moment?

Okay, wow. When I called Dow Constantine a smarmy politician I was just referring to his apparent level of comfort with lying about Council colleague Kathy Lambert. It appears there’s so much more. Allegations have surfaced that Constantine has been accused of sexually harassing a County employee, as Mark Griswold writes about at Sound Politics.

Rumors of Dow Constantine’s inappropriate behavior have been swirling around the political cocktail circuit since his days in Olympia but until now they haven’t gotten much traction. Fair enough. As Baz Lurhmann says, “politicians will always philander.”

But now it seems that Constantine’s work place advances may be catching up with him.

I, along with Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times, was recently tipped off about a story involving a county employee and some of this inappropriate behavior. When Mr. Ervin filed a public records request all he was given was a restraining order between Ms. Jane Doe and King County, mentioning she feared for her job security should the information contained within documents related to the public records request be released.

So Keith Ervin filed a public records request with King County and got a copy of a restraining order for his trouble. That in itself seems like a story to me but not to Ervin, who suffers from what would seem to be a career-killing lack of curiosity for a reporter. Ervin is the same reporter who apparently didn’t find it particularly disturbing that Constantine’s campaign treasurer is also the treasurer for Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, a “non-partisan” group that funded robo-calls against Susan Hutchison.

I wonder how Jane Doe knew about Ervin’s request in time to file this restraining order. Would it be standard practice to notify all interested parties when a records request is received? If not, how did Jane Doe know about the request? Does she really fear the loss of her job if this information is made public? If so, what does that say about the employment environment at King County? Is she cooperating in protecting Constantine? If so, why? Was she pressured into doing so?

So many questions but one thing seems clear: if there were no truth to the allegation about a sexual harassment complaint, Ervin’s request would not have resulted in a restraining order being filed. And how convenient that the order will be in effect until after the ballot deadline.

Update 1: Speaking on the Kirby Wilbur Show, Mark Griswold states that the attorney who filed the restraining order, Tyler Firkins, has a track record of filing restraining orders on “behalf” of plaintiffs without their knowledge. So a new question arises: Who hired Firkins? Was it Jane Doe? A union interested in Constantine becoming King County Executive? Firkins’ old law school chum, Dow Constantine?

Update 2: The Seattle Times felt that the information contained in private documents relating to Susan Hutchison and KIRO TV was so vital, they sued to have them released, but apparently the public information concerning a possible sexual harassment claim against Dow Constantine is, you know, not that big of a deal. Yawn.

Update 3: Rumor has it that the Seattle Times did in fact receive numerous documents in response to Keith Ervin’s request prior to the restraining order being filed, but that Ervin is sitting on the story.

More on this story from Bryan Myrick at Red County.


Filed under KingCounty, Media, Washington

In A Field Cleared of Liberal Competition, Constantine Still Hasn’t Closed The Deal

Susan Hutchison leads Dow Constantine in the King County Executive race, 47% to 44%, not that this information would be available to you if the Seattle Times were your primary source of local news; a search of their website this morning found no mention of the King5/SurveyUSA poll conducted September 1st through 3rd.

The Seattle P-I does a bit better; they report the results, but with the rather misleading headline, “Poll: Constantine closes gap on Hutchison in exec’s race.”

While not an outright lie, the P-I is playing Spin the Headline and making a good game of it. To arrive at this conclusion, the P-I compares the new results to pre-primary poll results, when the Democrat vote was split between three relatively strong candidates – Constantine, Fred Jarrett and Ross Hunter. If the P-I wanted to call attention to the real news, wouldn’t a more appropriate headline have been, “Poll: Constantine fails to take lead over Hutchison in exec’s race?”

Both headlines are true, after a fashion, but one cuts right to the heart of the news; the other, well, deliberately directs attention away from it.

The lead is within the margin of error. Even so, it’s extremely interesting that Hutchison, the more conservative of the two candidates, is quite possibly leading this race. The fact that Constantine isn’t polling ahead in a field cleared of liberal competition in ultra-liberal King County is actually rather astonishing, evidenced by the fact that the local media is busy providing cover. Here’s to hoping it’s a sign of things to come.

(How liberal is King County? For those of you who don’t know, Seattle, in the heart of the county, will have two liberal Democrats on the mayoral ballot this fall as a result of Washington’s misguided top-two primary system. So much for choice.)

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Filed under KingCounty, Washington