Seattle Times Co. pays for full page ad for GOP gubernatorial candidate

The Seattle Times Co. placed this full page ad in its flagship paper today for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, and plans to run another ad in support of the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Washington. (A disclosure in very small type at the bottom of the ad says: “No candidate authorized this ad. It is paid for by The Seattle Times Company.”)

“The News Department was not part of the discussion or the decision to do this,” says Seattle Times executive editor David Boardman.

The Times notes:

The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed both McKenna and R-74, but the ad campaign takes that support to another level.

The contributions in support of the campaigns will amount to between $75,000 and $80,000 each and will be reported to the state, said Jill Mackie, a Times spokeswoman.

Todd Donovan, a political science prof, tells the Times that “my sense is the public perception of the Times’ credibility and objectivity takes a big hit here. …It’s a big money contribution by the Times to a candidate, and a big money (in kind) contribution to a ballot measure campaign.”

* Seattle Times Co. launches ad campaigns for GOP gubernatorial candidate, gay marriage (seattletimes.com)
* There’s nothing wrong with being an unrepentant GOP news outlet, but… (thestranger.com)

Read what McKenna’s opponent says about the Times ad after the jump.

Press release

OCTOBER 17, 2012

Times Co. decision raises questions for the Seattle Times

Seattle – This morning the Seattle Times ran a full-page ad supporting Republican Rob McKenna which was paid for by the Times Company itself. This unprecedented move raises serious questions about who prepared the ad and who participated in its publication.

“Copy for the ad had to be written, artwork had to be prepared by someone,” said Jay Inslee Communications Director, Sterling Clifford. “It is difficult to believe that none of the Times’ supposedly neutral newsroom resources were used for this partisan ad.”

Seven questions for the Seattle Times:

1. Who in the corporate management made this decision for the Seattle Times?

2. What employees of the Seattle Times company were involved or knew about this decision?

3. Are any members of the editorial staff involved in this decision?

4. Who in the art department was involved in this? Who was involved in placing the ad? How did they create the copy? How did they come up with the issues listed in the ad?

5. Does the Seattle Times company plan to continue to do this in sync with, or regardless of, their editorial decisions?

6. Do they feel that their readers should be exposed to the political affiliations of the company’s corporate leadership?

7. Does the company feel that this compromises the independence of the reporters it pays to write for the company’s paper?

In a belated announcement, the Times Co. admitted the ad is part of an $80,000 independent expenditure funded by the Times on behalf of McKenna. That puts the Times among the top three partisan groups propping up the McKenna campaign.

“The Times asks readers to trust its reporters and trust its objectivity,” Clifford said. “The Times’ management has made a decision that raises serious questions for the people of Washington.”

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