Editorial: Chronicle Should Examine Own Behavior

by on September 9, 2004

The San Francisco Chronicle claimed yesterday that Supervisor Chris Daly has a history of “displaying irresponsible public behavior.” The nature of this behavior was identified as Daly’s “lashing out at Mayor Newsom” and his claiming that the court ruling throwing out Prop M “was based on influence from monied power-brokers.” While we do not see expressing contrary views to the Chronicle as “irresponsible,” Daly’s conduct pales in comparison to that of the paper’s Executive Editor, who kept his job despite breaking the ankle of a political consultant during a meeting.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s September 9 editorial, “Demolishing a Bad Plan,” is both wrongheaded and hypocritical. The paper is certainly free to cheer the court ruling throwing our Prop M, but the editorial took two false and hypocritical shots at District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly.

First, the Chronicle described Daly’s criticism of the court ruling as a display of “irresponsible public behavior.” We thought that it was a politician’s job to express views on political and legal developments. In fact, Daly would have breached his obligation to his district if he had remained silent after the legally suspect Prop M ruling potentially subjected his constituents to the loss of their homes.

As a member of the media, the Chronicle should care enough about free speech so as to not be trying to suppress the airing of viewpoints which it disagrees. The paper’s editors should know the difference between speech and

Many elected officials expressed profound disagreement with the California Supreme Court ruling invalidating gay marriages, and a host of leading Democrats made harsh allegations about Republican insiders influencing the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore. The Chronicle did not equate these criticisms of court rulings with “irresponsible public behavior.”

But the Chronicle clearly has a problem recognizing the difference between the expression of an opinion and irresponsible public behavior. In the latter category we would find the assault by Chronicle Executive Editor Phil Bronstein on political consultant, Clint Reilly.

Bronstein broke Reilly’s ankle during an argument between the two men in the Chron exec’s office. The same paper that chastises Daly for expressing contrary opinions has no problem retaining an Executive Editor who was unable to control himself from physically attacking a prominent member of the community

Chris Daly has never assaulted anyone. His crime is expressing views that do not mirror the Chronicle/Chamber/Newsom line.

The Chronicle is trying to make an example of Daly, so that other politicians become more reluctant to buck the paper’s line. With Matt Gonzalez apparently disconnected from local politics, Daly has become the chief opposition voice to the Chronicle’s agenda.

The Chronicle should explain why it is more “irresponsible” to tell the truth about the politics behind the Prop M ruling than it is to break the ankle of a business visitor.

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