Topic: The Stranger
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June 19, 2013 at 12:06 PM
(Updated at 2 p.m. with The Stranger’s response.)
Any remaining doubt about who The Stranger newspaper would back in this year’s crowded mayor’s race is probably settled by a story the weekly paper posted today. In it, The Stranger’s political writers praise Mayor Mike McGinn for his “frankness” — the absolute nicest way to say it — and heap criticism on State Sen. Ed Murray. Murray, of course, was the undisputed champion of the state’s gay-marriage campaign last year and lives in The Stranger’s neighborhood on Capitol Hill. His campaign spokesman is former Stranger staff writer Sandeep Kaushik.*
But it’s clear The Stranger’s writers are not enamored with Murray as a candidate. His greatest strength, they wrote, is “playing dirty.” Weakness: “Murray’s got limited knowledge of city issues. He may play up being Seattle’s first gay mayor, but gays don’t need gay light rail.”
It’s a rough review. The Stranger played an important role in the 2009 election, when McGinn was little-known until they put his face on their cover with the headline: “Mike McGinn for Mayor.” They stumped unabashedly throughout McGinn’s campaign, even calling his opponent names, but the paper has been more critical of the mayor at times throughout his first term. A couple of months ago, their allegiance still seemed to be up for grabs.
There’s a limit to The Stranger’s influence. Its readers are younger, and therefore less likely to vote in an off-year primary. In a 2009 Survey USA poll in King County, 70 percent of voters over 50 said they vote in every election, while only 21 percent of voters under 35 said that.
UPDATE at 2 p.m. — Stranger News Editor Dominic Holden says I misread the paper’s piece, and that the paper’s staff has not settled on a favorite candidate. He writes on Facebook: “The Stranger could endorse either candidate next month — or another candidate in the race. Anyone who tells you differently has a dog in the fight. And the Seattle Times has a dog in the fight. The paper has been campaigning against mayor Mike McGinn for four years and they’re keeping it up today.”
You’ll have to take a look at The Stranger’s (very funny) piece and reach your own conclusion, as I did.
*The mayor’s spokesman, Aaron Pickus, also worked for The Stranger, as an intern.
November 28, 2012 at 3:26 PM
Newly announced Seattle mayoral candidate Tim Burgess tried to get off on the right foot yesterday with The Stranger, offering them an exclusive story about his decision to get into the race.
In a flattering piece about Burgess, a city councilmember with whom The Stranger has often disagreed, Dominic Holden wrote: “Giving an advance interview to The Stranger is classic Burgess; it’s his cunning genius to neutralize critics by talking to them.”
It was a clever piece of strategy by Burgess, known for media savvy honed as a former journalist and advertising executive and in two terms on the City Council. The Stranger tends to go overboard for its favorite candidates. In 2009, the paper published a cover with McGinn’s face on it at a crucial point in the race, and wrote long articles in his favor, including one that called his opponent an “idiot” in the headline. In other words, it’s not a bad thing to have The Stranger on your side, and Burgess may have seen an opportunity, since The Stranger has been less than supportive of the mayor recently.
The only problem was that The Stranger’s scoop was not really a scoop. The Seattle Times, PubliCola, and The Seattle P-I had stories and interviews prepped for publication at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the same time Burgess told Holden he could put up his story. Holden noticed, and today posted a long Facebook status taking the councilmember to task. He wrote:
“Tim Burgess promised to give The Stranger a scoop on his run for mayor, even approaching me with the idea, but he was not true to his word. In our hour-long interview last week, he agreed that we could publish the story last night at 5:00 p.m., before any other news outlet. Burgess unequivocally guaranteed that he would not confirm his candidacy to any other news outlet until after The Stranger published its story.”
In the comments, Burgess apologized: “Dom is right. Dom was the first journalist I entrusted with my plans to announce. I sat down with him a week ago for my most extensive interview. As word of my announcement spread yesterday afternoon I granted other interviews.”
Still, it looks like his early effort to co-opt The Stranger’s support fell flat.
November 8, 2012 at 6:00 AM
A Socialist candidate and Occupy Seattle activist who had more than a quarter of the vote in her race against state House Speaker Frank Chopp has set her sights on next year’s city elections. Kshama Sawant says she is recruiting a slate of Socialist candidates to run for Seattle City Council and mayor next year.
Though Sawant, a Central Seattle Community College lecturer, lost to Chopp by a lot, she did better than past contenders. Kim Verde, a Republican, lost to the longtime Speaker of the House in 2008 and 2010, each time with about 13 percent of the vote. Tuesday night, Sawant had 27 percent of the vote.
Sawant first filed to run for the Position 1 seat in the 43rd, against state Rep. Jamie Pedersen. She came in second, qualifying for the general. But she ended up coming in second as a write-in candidate for Position 2, aided by The Stranger when it endorsed her as a write-in alternative to Chopp, and then wrote stories about her.
She decided to run against Chopp, and sued successfully to have her party preference, Socialist Alternative, on the ballot.
Sawant will kick off her next political project at City Hall at a post-election forum Thursday night entitled “Where do Progressives Go From Here?” She is a panelist, along with Chopp and Tim Harris, the director of Real Change. The event is at 7 p.m. at the University Temple Methodist Church, 1415-43rd Street NE.
In a statement, Sawant said: “We achieved this election result as an openly Socialist campaign that was largely ignored by the corporate media, with no corporate donations, on a shoe string budget. Occupy gave a voice to working people’s rage at Wall Street, and our campaign gave voice to mass anger at the corporate politicians. It shows the potential to build a powerful left electoral challenge to the two corporate parties.”
October 18, 2012 at 2:00 PM
Has state attorney general candidate Reagan Dunn exaggerated his credentials as a lawyer, specifically his time spent practicing civil law?
It’s a question that arose during the first televised debate in June between Republican Dunn and his opponent, Democrat Bob Ferguson. The Stranger newspaper wrote about the issue, concluding that Dunn misrepresented his legal experience, and wrote that The Seattle Times was biased if it didn’t report on Dunn’s credentials in a similar way.
We looked into the matter in the summer, talked to three legal ethics experts –- including one The Stranger quoted –- and decided Dunn’s statements weren’t significantly misleading or unethical. Therefore we didn’t publish our findings. But The Stranger revived its claim Wednesday about a Times’ bias, tying it to ads The Seattle Times Co. is running to support Rob McKenna, GOP candidate for governor.
So, here’s what we found. You be the judge.
At the June debate, Dunn was stressing his experience in criminal law as a former federal prosecutor when Ferguson noted that the vast majority of the work in the attorney general’s office is in civil law. Ferguson said he had more civil experience than Dunn.
Dunn shot back: “I worked in a complex civil practice as well from 1997 until 2001, at a respected firm, Inslee Best Doezie and Ryder” in Bellevue.
Ferguson challenged that statement, saying Dunn “worked as a full-time lawyer in private practice for less than two years.”
“You’re absolutely wrong Mr. Ferguson about the length of civil practice, it’s more like three-and-a-half years,” Dunn said. “You practiced for four-and-a-half years. You’ve got a year.”
Dunn did work at the Bellevue firm from June 1997 until January 2001, but he was a law student for a good chunk of that time and worked as a clerk and so-called Rule 9 intern.
He said he was hired as a full time lawyer in September 1998, pending passage of the bar exam, which he accomplished in October. He was admitted to the state bar in January 1999 and worked as a full-time lawyer in Bellevue for just under two years, January 1999 until January 2001.
When questioned in a post-debate interview, Dunn provided a timeline of his legal experience and clarified that he accumulated three-and-a-half years of civil experience by counting more than a year’s work he did later at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., that focused mostly on civil law.
Back in the summer, David Goldstein of The Stranger quoted a legal ethics expert, Seattle University Professor John Strait, as saying Dunn’s statement on his civil experience was “materially misleading” because one should not describe experience as a Rule 9 intern as “practicing law,” which suggests one is already admitted by the bar to practice law.
But Strait told the Times he would’ve expressed a different view had he known about Dunn’s contention that he did civil work, as well as criminal work, at DOJ. (Goldstein wrote that Dunn did not respond to his request for comment, leading Goldstein to assume “no doubt he must count his part-time non-lawyer” experience toward his years in civil practice.)
“If in his three-and-half years of practice he was including time in the Department of Justice, then it’s not a misleading statement. But that’s not the way it was presented to me” by Goldstein, Strait said.
Two other legal ethics experts – Professor Rob Aronson at the University of Washington and Professor Steve Gillers at New York University – had similar views.
Both had no problem with Dunn’s first statement because he didn’t say he was a lawyer in Bellevue from 1997 until 2001; rather he said he “worked” there.
“It’s literally true and within the bounds of the tolerable in political races,” Gillers said. It could be a serious problem, Gillers added, if Dunn said the same to a judge, who would expect greater precision.
“But in a public statement, outside law practice, and especially in a political contest,” Gillers said such a statement was not unethical.
Aronson said Dunn’s explanation about civil work at DOJ could have been a convenient post-debate rationale – but it’s still not unethical. “And, although, I suspect his DOJ justification was an after-the-fact ‘save,’ I do not believe he crossed the line of legally unethical conduct.”
October 4, 2012 at 1:02 PM
Readers of Slog, the popular blog at Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, were greeted this morning by a series of posts ostensibly by Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, his staff and family.
That may have seemed too weird to be true, since The Stranger is an unabashed basher of McKenna, and a supporter of Democrat Jay Inslee. So could that really be McKenna posting about his love of imported strawberry jam, or saying that he is “a feminist” who would hand women “the broom to break through” the glass ceiling?
Nope, as readers should have figured out pretty quickly, it was all a joke.
Charles McCray, a McKenna campaign spokesman, said the fake posts were just “antics” from the paper. “There’s no truth to it. There rarely is in The Stranger,” he said.
The posts did apparently fool a bunch of Slog readers though, who reacted angrily in the comment threads to the faux-McKenna’s “broom” comment. It also tricked Seattlepi.com, which posted about McKenna’s supposed Slog guest appearance before sheepishly apologizing.
Readers may have been fooled in part by the straight-faced introduction to the “McKenna” posts by the paper’s news editor, Dominic Holden, who wrote that the Stranger was “impressed” when McKenna agreed to post on Slog for the day, and encouraged readers to engage with him “respectfully” in the comments.
Asked whether The Stranger has any journalistic qualms about hoaxing its readers, Holden replied in an email: “The Stranger has no ethical issues with satire. And unlike the Seattle Times, all of our satire is intentional.”
July 16, 2012 at 4:44 PM
Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna said Monday afternoon that a pair of months-old tweets sent by one of his staffers, appearing to mock Asians and the elderly, were “insensitive and wrong.”
The tweets, sent by Kathlyn Ehl before she joined the McKenna campaign in April, gained attention earlier Monday after The Stranger published them. They were quickly deleted, but remained accessible as archived website copies.
One tweet, sent in January, said “shut up and speak english #asians.” The other, from November, read, “If it takes you an entire green light to walk in front of my car GET A WHEELCHAIR #toooldtowalk.”
“The tweets sent by a member of my campaign staff, Kathlyn Ehl, were offensive and inappropriate,” McKenna, the state’s attorney general, said in a statement that was set to be released to the media Monday evening. ” They were insensitive and wrong regardless of the context.”
Ehl, a policy assistant for McKenna, will remain a part of the campaign, said campaign manager Randy Pepple.
In an email message to The Seattle Times, Ehl also apologized.
“These insensitive comments were harmful not just to those groups which I mentioned in the tweets, but also to my family, friends and my co-workers,” she wrote. “For causing that pain, I am sorry.”
Ehl, who graduated from the University of Washington last month, started volunteering for the campaign in April before becoming a paid staffer last month.
She frequently tweets about the McKenna campaign and other political issues.
“My actions were not just unfortunate, they were offensive,” she wrote in the email. “It is a lesson to others that social media comments made in frustration not only can hurt others, but they exist long after the moment has passed.”
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