KUSI: San Diego’s Fox News

by on September 16, 2011 · 25 comments

in Election, Media, Popular, San Diego

By Jason Everitt / Two Cathedrals / September 16, 2011

On Wednesday, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council called on KUSI to acknowledge their broadcast of the station-sponsored special report, “Pension Reform: The Fight to Get it on the Ballot,” as a campaign contribution. The Labor Council’s claim is based on the fact that the “special report” was explicitly produced for the purpose of advocating for qualification of a ballot measure. For anyone who watched the hour and a half long CPR commercial (and I did), it would be impossible to draw any other conclusion.

Regardless, last night, KUSI threw moon-sized softball questions to Mayor Sanders, San Diego City Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Taxpayers Association chief Lani Lutar, and failed San Diego City Council candidate April Boling. KUSI also carried water for the Comprehensive Pension Reform campaign by pointing out the specific locations of signature-gathering sites.

That KUSI acts as a mouthpiece for the SDGOP and Republican politicians and candidates across the region is no earth-shattering conclusion. No pearls shall be clutched. Appearances by Republican elected officials on the morning and evening news are almost a daily occurrence. And then there’s John Coleman. The daily right-leaning bias would be nothing but funny if folks didn’t accidentally arrive at their evening broadcast, if only because it airs before TMZ on TV.

If the pension reform infomercial meets the legal definition of a campaign contribution is a matter better left to the lawyers, but KUSI’s role as the free advertising network and media attack dog for the Republican Party is as brazen as it is unethical.

Over the last year, we’ve seen KUSI pride itself on its hard-hitting investigations into the personal lives and relationships of appointed public servants and city employees who share nothing but similar space within the crosshairs of Tony Krvaric.

So with the aid of a private investigator named Google, we decided to find out a little bit more about KUSI. What you’re about to read may shock you, but likely not.

KUSI is owned and operated by Channel 51 of San Diego, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of McKinnon Broadcasting. McKinnon Broadcasting is owned by the McKinnon family, which is made up of Dan, Michael, Clinton, and Michael Jr. The McKinnon’s aren’t passive, disengaged owners of the station. Michael McKinnon currently serves as Station Manager.

The McKinnon family, including their spouses, has donated over $150,000 to Republican candidates and committees, over half of which into the pockets of San Diego congressmen and the SDGOP. Here is a breakdown of the most popular recipients of KUSI family money.

  • 24 donations totaling $17,020 to disgraced, pay-for-play Republican former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
  • $18,650 to Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, who makes regular visits to KUSI when he returns from Washington, DC.
  • $21,000 in contributions to now-retired Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter ($26,000 if you count a $5,000 contribution to Hunter’s “Peace Through Strength” PAC) and an additional $11,450 to his son, current Congressman Duncan D. Hunter. Hunter Sr. was also a frequent guest on KUSI.
  • $8300 has been contributed to the San Diego County Republican Central Committee under the tenure of Tony Krvaric.
  • $52,500 in contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

(Source: www.OpenSecrets.org)

Clearly, supporting Republicans candidates and policies isn’t just an editorial priority of KUSI as a television station, it is a long-term financing project of its owners and its station manager. More accurately, the telethon was an example of KUSIs increasing level of comfort in blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy on behalf of its owner’s long-standing political agenda.

The station, more than ever, exists as part of a larger funding strategy to defeat Democrats and impose conservative ideology on San Diegans and that is the reason that Democratic politicians and left-leaning organizations are hesitant about appearing on KUSI.

The option presented to liberals is often to appear pre-taped and subject to editorialized bookends from the stations anchors, as was the option presented to Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez for the pension telethon. Gonzalez offered to do it live, but that would have ruined the KUSI’s pre-determined script. KUSI declined.

Here is case in point from last nights program.

Congressman Bob Filner appeared in a pre-recorded interview and fielded these questions:

“Obviously the unions are vehemently opposed to this ballot measure that Carl DeMaio is pushing, why not let the voters decided? Isn’t that the way Democracy works?”

“Why are they (the unions) so afraid of this (television) program? And why will they not come out and say why they’re afraid of the ballot measure itself?”

“The DeMaio plan… proposes to save $1.2 billion by 2040, will your plan do that?”

These were the only questions. The first two questions raised the issue of unions and even alleged that the Filner pension plan and Filner’s candidacy were union-sanctioned. The last question effectively grants a claim about potential savings made by DeMaio and the CPR campaign, even though that claim has been described as false and misleading. Immediately after the interview, the two anchors took shots at the Congressman’s pension plan before kicking it to DeMaio, then Lutar, then Boling, etc, for additional spin and counterpoints.

KUSI is a fix, a set-up, an argument where the only thing written is the conclusion. It’s a game that Democrats are not intended to win. It’s not journalism. The idea that the pension telethon was either an isolated incident or a mere overextension of an existing ideological preference at the station tragically shorts the McKinnon family’s long history of conservative political action and financial support. It’s time that we start calling KUSI what it is, San Diego’s Fox News.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Eugene Hamptons September 17, 2011 at 7:07 am

It is obvious the OB Rag is a mouthpiece for the LEFT/Democrats. Your consistant shameless BIAS and apparent ignorance of your own favoritism as you point your finger at others makes you look the fool.

Wake up. It is no wonder the OB Rag has such limited appeal… it is edited by hypocrites and ignorant tools.


Frank Gormlie September 17, 2011 at 9:12 am

Eugene, I know, I know, isn’t it shameless? I hate being part of any “mouthpiece”. Geez, with all this great progressive media in this town of San Diego, with the Union-Tribune fighting for the rights of unionized workers, with TV station KUSI looking out for the little guy, with all the access that our corporate media give to grassroots efforts and activists in their efforts to make this a better city / county / country.

Damn, we’re still waiting for our mouthpiece rewards – you know, those big checks from the Democrats and other leftists. Why do we have to wait so long? Can you do something about it? Talk to your Koch brother friends, perhaps they can cut us a cool million now and then.


LK September 17, 2011 at 9:18 am

Instead of attacking the OB Rag, how about refuting the factual information used by the author to make his point and site counter examples that demonstrate KUSI is indeed, fair and balanced.


Goatskull September 17, 2011 at 10:26 am

The OB Rag IS a progressive blog site. It doesn’t hide that fact. KUSI on the other hand is a local mainstream news outlet that’s supposed to be more balaned. See the difference?


Frank Gormlie September 17, 2011 at 10:40 am

Thanks Goatskull and dorndiego – also, not to mention KUSI is a BROADCAST media, which means it is using PUBLIC airspace to put out its own bias. As such it deserves to be made accountable to the public.


Patty Jones September 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm

See our tagline? Freaks, Uppity Women & Politicos? While the term “Politicos” may be a term that could be bipartisan, the right doesn’t generally embrace Freaks and Uppity Women. And you’re correct, we are shameless, BUT we do know who we favor.


Goatskull September 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Well maybe uppity women.


anonymous September 17, 2011 at 8:01 am

The United States has ushered in a new age of robber barons and Hearstian journalism. Fight it or get used to it.


Frank Gormlie September 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

Thanks, we have decided to fight it, obviously. Hopefully, you’ll join us.


bhound56 September 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

We have noticed the same shift in KUSI News (toward a Fox News type of reporting) during the last year or so. We are looking elsewhere for balanced local news.


Peter Landsheft September 17, 2011 at 10:18 am

I really wish news organizations would be bias. I don’t watch KUSI or fox for that matter. I like the no opinion myself. I think if news organizations took more of this approach we would all be better off.


Eliel September 17, 2011 at 10:24 am

“…to appear pre-taped and subject to editorialized bookends from …” This sounds like an art project ! :)


dorndiego September 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

All props and hoorahs to the RAG. You guys have to know
you’re doing the gods’ work when a nutbag like Eugene ignores
the article’s quotes and analysis and instead uses his
precious little commentary space to hurl these bits of right-wing
sludge: mouthpiece, shameless, ignorance, favoritism, fool,
Eugene, you okay? Are you breathing?


Stephen Griffin September 17, 2011 at 10:40 am

Attacking each other on Constitution Day… tsk tsk. Makes ya sad. Everything has an editorial bias, its the nature of having an editor. We just have to do our best to win an argument based on ideas and facts. Just because I usually lose that game doesn’t mean I don’t want to play.


doug porter September 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

It would appear that we’ve hit a nerve with the mighty righties in this town. As you may or may not be aware, one tactic being used by the Tea Party types is that they have paid workers who go to websites that run counter to the right’s agenda. They’re job is to disrupt the comments sections, either by making absurd claims or by making a mountain out of a molehill (“your claim is invalid because you posted this on a day when the moon is in Gemini…”)
We’d don’t for sure yet (we’re working on it– a little birdie flew in this morning a tipped us off) which of the folks who’ve popped up lately are trolls and which are people who simply wish to be contrarian. But it certainly seems like we’re seeing a lot more right wing traffic since we started covering Carl DeMaio’s campaign.
While we welcome opposing views (our moderation policy only insists on basic manners), if we do indeed find that we’re being gamed, rest assured that there will be consequences, starting with banning IP addresses and perhaps exposing any paid trolls so the public can know who they are.
The first commenter above may be simply challenged in their reading or analytic skills– as in, doh, the OB Rag is a progressive website. (‘Leftist’, if that makes you happy.) With a history that goes back over four decades, our point of view shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
So, please remember when responding to these “challenged” or simply “paid for” comments that there is much to be said for simply bypassing stupidity. Arguing with trolls is waste of time.
My apologies to our regular contrarian commenters: we’re sure that your viewpoints are sincere and we respect your right to express them.


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG September 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm

If we shouldn’t argue w/ trolls, may we argue w/ ogres? How about leprechauns? Mythical figures like Budha, Zoaraster, James Bond?
We should all file for vanity plates throught the state, & it should say NO GOP. Whoever gets through the DMV censors wins & gets to wear the plates.
If we stand in a circle, is my ideology to the left or the right of Frank & Patty?
Back to cleaning my guns.


editordude September 18, 2011 at 10:16 am

RB – all the times we’ve been round and round with you, that’s how you treat us. Guess what, dude. You are now on our moderation watchlist.

Eugene Hampton – you sir – are out of here! Go peddle your trash somewhere else – oh, that’s right, you can’t go back to the U-T anymore. Oh, well, try the websites of your tea party friends.


doug porter September 18, 2011 at 10:17 am

thank you.


thinking out loud September 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Dear Mr. Editor Dude.
The guy can’t have an opinion different from yours or you banish him ? That’s kind of weak on your part. What take your ball and go home with it.
I expected more from you.
But it’s your ball and you can do with them what you want.


doug porter September 19, 2011 at 8:33 am

it wasn’t the opinion. it was the way it got presented. what’s missing here are the posts that were deleted (after being up for a little while) from these individuals. our policy on comments is very clear (click on “About” above), and they violated it. At that point the “It’s our sandbox” rule kicks in.


editordude September 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

TOL – As we’ve said many times, this is not a site for tea party trash – there are a number of tea party sites that we’re certain would welcome such un-American dribble.

We’ve all had our turns trying to respond to our libertarian RB, but he finally just gave us the verbal middle digit – and that’s it.


mr.rick September 19, 2011 at 10:08 am

OOPS! Some body got their covers pulled. Good Shot Compadre.


Talkingheadroom September 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm

And don’t forget about KUSI weatherman John Coleman the global warming denier.



john September 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Coleman’s got some pretty solid points, actually, and is more qualified on the issue than most climatologists. As many climate change “alarmists” (only using that because you call him a denier, not the more diplomatic “skeptic”) use argument from authority to promote their agenda, not sure why Coleman is so easily dismissed unless it’s simply that he disagrees with you.
Our climate may be going through some changes and it would be foolish for anyone to not believe 6.4 bilion people’s industrial activity would not have negative effects, to be certain.
It doesn’t take a lot of research to find many examples of AGW proponents using this issue for political capital, personal and corporate profiteering, and pursuit of ideology, just as you can find endless amounts of money being used to fight them by oil companies.
I can see both sides on this issue, and frankly it is very troubling. People concerned about the environment join lockstep with those pursuing global socialism, some hold both views, foolishly not seeing that by improving living standards in third world nations, which the UN and the IPCC’s companion programs are doing providing clean drinking water, paved roads, hospitals, electricity, etc, to billions all told- you’re industrializing them and improving infant mortality rates. Under the false pretense of heading off a problem caused by human industrial activity.
Corporations will join them and work overtime putting up factories and building infrastructure and polluting in countries with corrupt governments that they could never get away with here, profiting immensely while fulfilling the will of the western left that all the huddled masses have our creature comforts.
Isn’t this silly? The minority “haves” are spoiling the earth, we’ll fix that and oh by the way the much greater numbers of “have nots” should be brought up to the level of the “haves”?
Scoff if you like but the hard numbers support this-since the implementation of Kyoto, global GGE as a whole have soared, and the rate of increase is soaring. It has only facilitated more harmful industrialization of masses of people! Proponents don’t seem to care because saving the earth was not job 1, even if they don’t even realize that.
Back to that “future is troubling” thing: In 50 years we’ll be left with a planet more overpopulated, with more traditional pollution, the Western standard of living eroded, tens of billions living as one in this cesspool…
And GW alarmists left to say “we told you so!” with the only real benefit they got out of it a little political capital taking shots at the right. Which I could care less about, I traded in my Chevy 454 powered riding mower for a bicycle a decade ago, vote independent with a mix of views just leaning left.
Relevant to the topic, Coleman’s right on this issue, IMO, and Gormlie’s right about KUSI. We should focus on each issue though as dividing down a partisan line leaves us dangerously wrong on key issues sometimes, and if we’re merely calling a kettle black, well…. maybe the pot should sit down with the kettle and review the ingredients we’re all eating for dinner.


Daver July 13, 2016 at 10:17 am

I grew up in San Diego and have recently returned to take care of my Mom. Surprised to see Amezcua (Former Patriot ultra right wing radio host in LA) as KUSI spokeshole on a fluff morning show.

And it’s amazing how a fluff show can lean so far to the right. For example “Let’s get this NRA gun rights attorney to explain California’s new assault weapon laws.” Today they were incessantly pitching the huge (50 person) trump fundraiser in Rancho Santa Fe.

And the UT and KFMB 760? I don’t mind a conservative opinion but the hosts on AM radio here make Rush Limbaugh sound like Thom Hartmann. Is there any legitimate news channel here besides NPR? This is crazy.


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