Beyond Chron Readers Fall for April Fool’s Edition

by Paul Hogarth on April 2, 2009

It’s a shame I called in sick yesterday, and Randy was in Chicago promoting his new book – because it would have been a fun day to be at the office. Many readers took our fake stories seriously, believing the SF Chronicle really did hire Randy Shaw to replace columnist Debra Saunders. Blogger Markos Moulitsas even linked to it from the front page of Daily Kos, the most popular political blog. “There are many reasons newspapers are dying,” he commented, “and their inability to fully represent their communities is one of them.” Readers understand what’s wrong with the Chronicle, and our attempt at satire for April Fool’s Day proved a little too logical. My piece that Republicans are giving up their challenge of the Minnesota Senate race (where I invented a quote by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell) confused a few people. By sheer coincidence, McConnell was quoted yesterday in other news sources saying the exact opposite – leading some to wonder which quote was accurate. Of course, I wasn’t the only one yesterday who joked about that neverending saga being over. The following – for your enjoyment – are some of the letters we received …

Re: “Chronicle Hires Shaw to Replace Saunders as Chief Political Columnist” by Randy Shaw.

To the Editor:

Congratulations to you and to us because having you on both the Chronicle and Beyond Chron will truly benefit the City and its residents. I have truly enjoyed your contributions to Beyond Chron, and will look forward to reading your entries and watch how your participation will assist in changing the much needed direction of the Chronicle.

Nancy College

Congrats Randy!

This is a great moment for all of us here at BeyondChron. A more Progressive San Francisco Chronicle would be a wonderful thing. I know that you have helped to bring it about. Much appreciated.

Austin McDonough

To the Editor:

I read the Chron online everyday. Too many sensationalistic stories irrelevant to Bay Area. I assume that they do this to draw more visits to their website. Online layout is messy and needs to be cleaned up.

Glad that y’all are hiring people more reflective of the community. I don’t know if that will save the Chron, but wishing y’all the best on this.

I’m also glad Debra Saunders is gone. She was just another dittohead who refused to think critically, but instead served as another mouthpiece for conservative propaganda. Consider replacing Mark Morford. His writing style is hectic and over the top, not a fun read.

Kevin Loh

To the Editor:

Frankly, the breakthrough report you’re replacing Debra “I never met a straw man I didn’t misuse” Saunders was a let down. Now if you replaced the executive editor, that would be news, in April or any other month. Why yearn to replace someone almost no one reads any more?

And it’s not just the real estate industry the Chronicle cheerfully serves. Let’s not forget that senior senator (you know, the Republican one) and her inspired, visionary educator of a husband (the one playing CEO of the UC Regents).

Now, the appointment to columnist of my friend Gray Brechin I endorse with unfettered enthusiasm. Of course, your support is probably the kiss of death. Talk about someone too good for the Chronicle, who writes with clarity and passion while reminding us daily of the immense New Deal infrastructure we’ve just about depleted. He’d be too much.

Your appointment follows clearly on the heels of a comment, albeit from June ’07, when the real Phil Bronstein, if you can’t believe his own paper, boldly set forth the Chronicle mission, “One key role journalists need to play in our society is to give a voice to the voiceless.” His exact words printed in his paper (fixated near my desk). Well, finally, if belatedly, Bronstein is fulfilling his formerly vacuous promise. Perhaps that means he’s ready for politics. I trust that doesn’t mean you’re giving up my favorite Bay Area rag!

Robert Becker

Re: “Republicans Willing to Try Bipartisanship” by Paul Hogarth

To the Editor:

It’s about time! A nation divided against itself cannot stand. We need to come together and solve America’s serious problems. I do not expect them to agree on every element or issue, but surely those differences should be debated and discussed and a consensus should be met.

Enough of the name calling. Opposing for the sake of opposing is truly unhealthy and non-productive for the good of this country. We must emerge again and a strong leader in the world and a good caretaker of the American people and related American entities.

Marian Lauria

To the Editor:

It’s about time our Senate grew up and started acting like the mature adults they’re supposed to be. Now maybe we can get this nation back on track. As for Rush Limbaugh, he can go stuff it.

Richard Webb

To the Editor:

When does Rush Limbaugh’s “freedom of speech” cross the legal line into either mob action or possibly even treason? Just curious … as the hypocrite certainly needs a swift kick in the pants by some big cell mate named “Bubba.” Maybe that will tame his ego a little bit.

Chris Gallaway

Hi Paul,

I enjoyed your article about the GOP Senate leader McConnell urging Norm Coleman to drop out. But it seems to contradict an article I just read at the Star Tribune, with McConnell sending out an email saying:

“The court’s decision in Minnesota leaves no other choice but to continue the process to ensure that every legal vote is counted,” McConnell said in an e-mail. “Minnesotans deserve a final ruling that applies consistent ballot standards and addresses serious unresolved questions in order to have any confidence in the accuracy of the result. Although we all want finality to this historically close election, patience must outweigh partisanship.”

Where did you get your quote? Maybe McConnell is speaking out of both sides of his mouth!

Tharin Wendell
Benicia, CA

To the Editor:

That’s funny, because the Minnesota paper quotes McConnell just about an hour ago sending an email calling for Coleman to appeal the decision for all he is worth. I would like to know where they got this quote from McConnell, because it seems very wrong …

I can’t see the GOP giving up without trying to get their partisan US Supreme Court to rule on this … As with Bush v. Gore in 2000, they are capable of anything to help the GOP fortunes.

John Wendell

Re: “Pope: Gays Only ‘Somewhat’ Intrinsically Evil” by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca

To the Editor:

His Holyness believes is the only holder of the truth but he is in fact “somewhat” holder. Therefore instead of condemning abortion, birth control or homosexuality; the church must focus in helping people to discover God in a contemporary language. Nobody holds the truth and nobody will. Unfortunately the Pope still continues a policy of condemnation similar to one applied to Galileo.

Antonio Urbina

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