It is the role of the world of independent online news and opinion sites such as the OB Rag to call out the corporate media when it goes over the top on something that we can just not ignore.
One of the latest ‘over the top’ instances of reporting was done by the local outlet for CNS, City News Service, a little-known and even less understood network of regional news services, including a branch here in San Diego.
Here is what I’m getting at. In an article about how Mayor Sanders criticized mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, the article included a list of recent endorsements received by the other mayoral candidates – but oh, wait! It included the endorsements that just the Republicans have received, totally excluding recent endorsements to the sole Democrat in the race, Bob Filner.
Now, granted, this is somewhat a case of what my father used to call, “small potatoes” , but with a local news service that is picked up by other television and print media, such as Channel 6 News and KUSI, runs an article that blatantly is one-sided in favor of the Republicans, we have to raise a red flag.
Here is the section of the article that we object to:
In other campaign developments, Dumanis, who is endorsed by Sanders, received the backing of Keith Slotter, the former head of the FBI office in San Diego.
“Bonnie knows how to work with communities to solve neighborhood issues and get things done,” Slotter said. “She’s done that with crime prevention the past nine years, and she’ll bring that same toughness and spirit of collaboration to the mayor’s office.”
Fletcher, meanwhile, was endorsed by the founder of San Diego’s Earth Fair, Carolyn Chase, and other environmental leaders.
So we hear that Dumanis is endorsed by Mayor Sanders and by the former head of the FBI office in San Diego, and we hear that Fletcher is now endorsed by well-known environmentalist, Carolyn Chase, but no where is Bob Filner mentioned. Is no one of importance endorsing Mr. Filner? (How can he stand a chance against someone endorsed by the former head of the San Diego FBI office – whoa?!)
Well, it just so happens that Filner has picked up some recent endorsements of significance. One is from Lt Governor Gavin Newsom – you remember him, don’t you? The former mayor of San Francisco, and you know the guy in Sacramento who takes over if Gov Brown goes missing.
Plus Filner has also been endorsed by Donna Frye – you also remember her. She practically almost became mayor of the city but was very narrowly defeated by her write-in movement a few years back, and of course, she sat on the City Council for her terms.
So why didn’t CNS inform the voters and residents of San Diego about these endorsements? We asked them in an email and received this fairly prompt response:
I feel your pain. I’ve tried to get material out of the Filner campaign but without success. If they’d ever send endorsements or other announcements to me, I’d be happy include them in my stories. Thanks.
So, Jim Riffel makes it sound like its the Filner campaign’s fault. Yet, we here at the OB Rag receive plenty of emails from the Filner campaign, including his endorsements.
We’ll also a little griped by the CNS lead sentence in the story. It calls Carl DeMaio “the frontrunner in San Diego’s mayoral campaign”. How does it do that? With a recent poll by a conservative institute? The polls we’ve seen show some neck-in-neck positioning when you take into account the margin of errors in these tiny, tiny polls (500+ likely votes is fairly small sample to use in order to call someone “the frontrunner”).
We all know that DeMaio has been endorsed by the daily newspaper here, the U-T. And now, it looks as CNS is also endorsing him.
What all of this demonstrates, we feel, is that CNS is running a biased show, in favor of the Republicans in San Diego. Now, this is nothing new, so we’re not shocked. Most of the media and press in San Diego have a long history of support for the Republican establishment, you know, the establishment that Bob Filner says he’s running against.
Oh, now we see.
So, just who is CNS? They call themselves “America’s largest regional news service”, and here is what else CNS says about themselves:
City News Service is the nation’s largest regional wire service, operating 24 hours a day. More than 150 subscribers – media, private business and government offices – rely on CNS around the clock for top news of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.
CNS has full-time reporters covering all the important news center “beats,” such as public safety centers (“police beat”), courts, local and county governments. These reporters are employees of CNS – we never rely on stringers or free-lancers. We have reporters covering these essential beats in every one of our Southern California counties. In addition, of course, we also have general assignment reporters not assigned to specific beats, but who go out on stories as news develops.
The main editing center for CNS is in Los Angeles. No beat reporter is able to file to the wire. Every item from beats in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties is transmitted instantly to the Los Angeles editing center. CNS editors review every item before anything is sent to subscribers. As with any other major professional newsroom, editors may rewrite, add or eliminate information in stories. Or they may call the individual reporters to be sure each story, advisory or budget item is accurate and clear.
Lesson: next time you read or watch a report, observe where it originated. And the Filner campaign needs to send CNS its press releases, and CNS needs to find out who endorsed whom if they are going to claim any, and call somebody the “front runner”.