A Free Press?

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." --- A. J. Liebling

During this campaign we have struggled mightily to get any coverage from the press. While many good progressive outlets have covered our work, we have been entirely ignored by San Francisco's two major papers (both owned by Hearst Corporation), the news networks, the TV anchors, the national magazines and mainstream media at large. 

 

This is not surprising. We are challenging the status quo, the power elite, one of the most powerful and wealthy political figures of our time. And while it may seem like this deafening silence comes from a lack of interest in such a long-shot campaign, keep in mind that in 435 US House races this year, only about 20 are considered very close. Incumbents will keep their seats more than 95% of the time, and the average margin of victory will be around 30%. And the vast majority of those races will have some local press coverage. 

The Chronicle and Examiner have long been seen as corporately owned hack affairs in the city of San Francisco. It is a sad ending to what was once a tradition of excellent news reporting. 

On Sunday the Chronicle endorsed Pelosi in a gushing, adoring half-page affair in their opinion section. I wasn't surprised that they endorsed the candidate who helped the Hearst Company take over both of the major SF Newspapers. I was surprised that they either lied about our campaign, or worse, don't understand how California elections work. 

Toward the end the newspaper mentioned that Pelosi is such a sure thing in SF that the Republicans declined to run a candidate. That's just not true. There was a Republican in this race in June. However we have an open primary and for the first time the Republican did not take second. We beat the Republican and gave San Francisco its first real election for the US House since Cindy Sheehan took on Pelosi in 2008. 

It's troubling to see such a poor performance by 'the largest paper in Northern California,' an embarrassing display of favoritism, cronyism and plain ignorance. I wrote to their editorial board (I include the letter below), and expect to be ignored in this instance as I have for the last 18 months. 

 

 

To the San Francisco Chronicle:
I write in regards to your endorsement of my opponent, Nancy Pelosi (Chronicle Recommends Re-elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi, October 31st, 2016 pg. A9).
Two important points:
First: In the third-to-last paragraph you state “Republicans have not even bothered to put a challenger on the ballot this time…” This is entirely false. In California we have a top-two open primary system in which all candidates for the US House run for election in one big primary in June. The top two vote getters qualify to the November general election. This year the Republican took third place. I took second.
Second: As a citizen of San Francisco, I would hope that the Chronicle would take a more critical look at powerful political figures. You offered no criticism, just praise. You assert that the race for California’s 12th District is going to Pelosi without a doubt – then why not formulate an objective evaluation of Pelosi rather than pouring on the adulation?
While print media succumbs to the onslaught of online content, we expect more from the Chronicle. If you won’t help us hold the powerful accountable – who will?
Preston Picus
Candidate for US House CA-12