Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Talking Points Memo, citing a story in the South Carolina newspaper The State, notes something curious about e-mails sent to Governor Mark Sanford's office during the period when his whereabouts were unknown for several days:

...they ... show ... an effort by the right-wing media to curry favor with Sanford's office by dismissing the story as a storm in a teacup created by the liberal media.

An example:

...a Washington Times staffer at one point wrote in an email to the governor's office:

If you all want to speak on this publicly, you're welcome to Washington Times Radio. You know that you will be on friendly ground here!

Yup, "friendly ground." Objectivity? Who, us?

TPM posted this information after seeking, and failing to obtain, a comment from the executive editor of the WashTimes, John Solomon. But an update notes Solomon's subsequent reaction:

Washington Times executive editor John Solomon responds, telling TPMmuckraker that the email was sent not by the paper's newsroom staff but by a marketing employee doing booking for the radio show.

Solomon admitted that describing the show as "friendly ground" for Sanford was a "poor choice of words," adding: "We don't view ourselves as friendly or unfriendly, we view ourselves as fair."

But he said that the employee was reminding Sanford's office that the governor had recently appeared on the show, rather than implying that he would receive favorable treatment.

I'm amused to see that Solomon is denying that any writer or editor did anything wrong in this case, because Solomon also denied that any writer or editor did anything wrong when this appeared on the WashTimes Web site back in May:

Solomon said machines run amok were the problem that time:

... Solomon says that no human individual paired the pic with the story, that a technological foul-up was to blame, and that the paper is tweaking its photo selection software to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

"The theme engine, through automation, grabbed a photo it thought was relevant, and attached it to the story," Solomon says, acknowledging that the photo had gone up without a person seeing it.

Except that a person had to have seen it because (as I noted at the time) one page on the site showed the photo accompanied by this caption:

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS The Obama daughters (above) - Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10 - attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. This school year 36 of the city's school children have been killed.

Unless a machine also wrote that caption, without human intervention, a WashTimes editorial worker did see the photo and the story together.

But that's just one schmuck blogger's opinion. According to Solomon, apparently the buck doesn't ever stop in his office, or his newsroom.

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