Lets all stay very focused in spreading this message tomorrow when people get back to work. I am absolutely floored that the Seattle Times could be so blatant with their bias. It is crazy that they would come out in this manner literally without having a single business day to conduct investigative research and without a single critic of Yoshitani cited in their article. Why does "this issue have to go away?" Because the PR firm told them so
In recent months I have held back criticism of the Seattle Timesâ€™ coverage of the Sodo arena proposal out of respect to the many fine journalists who work for your paper.
Danny Westneat, a consistent opponent of previous arena deals, has earned my respect by keeping an open mind during his evaluation of the current proposal. He has been joined by esteemed finance writer Jon Talton. For years, Mr. Talton has demonstrated his commitment to fiscal accountability and consistently strives to protect taxpayer interests by educating them whenever he perceives those interests could be endangered.
Steve Kelley has been an insightful representative for local sports fans for as long as I can remember. He combines a wry wit with the ability to creatively illustrate issues that are important to the general public. His nuanced understanding of our region leads readers to the important questions while still allowing them to reach their own conclusions.
Out of deference to these individuals I have tried to overlook the fact that your editorial board has displayed such consistent and obvious bias in its coverage of both the Sodo Arena and the Port of Seattle.
We all understand that journalists who cover the Port of Seattle face similar obstacles to those who cover sports franchises or other large agencies. If they come out too critical of â€œthe organization,â€ they may be frozen out of future big stories. If all the good insight goes to the other guy, someone may lose their job.
Strong news institutions empower these journalists by standing up for them and demanding balanced coverage. If somebody is unwilling to provide reasonable access to both sides of the story, it is the editorâ€™s job to go to bat for them and demand that organizations who intimidate their writers will either find some criticism, or maybe get no coverage at all. Truly great institutions are not afraid of this conflict and consistently strive to push their writers to be more skeptical, ask more questions, and dig deeper into every story.
Just last week more than a dozen members of the Washington State Legislature called into question an ethical conflict by a government employee who makes more than double the wage of our governor and controls a tax subsidy of more than $70,000,000 annually. These liberal lawmakers were joined by two members of the Seattle Port Commission who called for the potential removal of the agencyâ€™s CEO. Less than 72 hours ago they were joined in their inquiry by the conservative Washington Coalition for Open Government, demonstrating that there is bipartisan concern for this issue across multiple layers of government and political oversight organizations.
Never has the Seattle Timesâ€™ bias towards the Port of Seattle been more blatant than it was in todayâ€™s grossly premature editorial. Apparently a single holiday weekend was all the time necessary for your editorial board to determine that these combined inquiries amount to nothing. A complex legal issue required only a single intense Labor Day investigation in order for you to come to the conclusion that â€œthis issue needs to go away.â€
This transparent catering to the Port is consistent with your actions regarding the Sodo Arena.
In that case you also made a premature decision before all the facts became available. The editorial board came out against the Sodo Arena project more than two months before scheduled completion of Council review, and more than three months before having a chance to review substantial changes which are reportedly being negotiated by the Seattle City Council. By coming out against the project so strong and so early the board chose not to explore potential mitigation options or changes to the deal that Council may be able to strike. They set the tone that the paper was accepting the Portâ€™s claims of impact at face value.
In todayâ€™s article every claim made by the Port of Seattle is presented as if it were fact that should not reasonably be questioned. The public should look at this blatantly soft treatment and note how similar it is to coverage of the Portâ€™s arena opposition. Claims of huge economic impact numbers are accepted without scrutiny and presented as fact. Sweepingly broad rhetorical statements from arena supporters are given weight based solely on the title of the person making the claim, while little or no recognition is given to the stature and diversity of the coalition which has formed against the Portâ€™s interests. It is incredibly dismissive of our elected officials and the Washington Coalition for Open Government that you choose to give greater weight to the opinion of an unnamed Port attorney than to the concerns of those willing to put their name behind them.
If your reporters had any doubt about managementâ€™s position regarding the Port, this editorial made sure they now understand the deal. They see the writing on the wall and know that there is no point in asking the Port tough questions. They do not have backup trying to stand their ground in this investigation. Not only do they lack editorial support to criticize the Port, because at the highest levels The Times wants the story simply to â€œgo awayâ€. They know this because rather than supporting them and calling for balanced inquiry of further investigation of fact, the board has the arrogance to put into print its desire to suppress this story.
Your editorial board actions are a shameful misuse of a newspaperâ€™s editorial influence and should call into question the journalistic integrity of the Blethen family and the newspaperâ€™s ownership.
Please find below an online petition our organization will begin circulating which requests that the Seattle Times review their position on issues relating to the Port of Seattle. A press release relating to this petition will be distributed tomorrow. As the anchor of local news and information, the paper should take these concerns amongst their readers seriously and address them in an open and transparent manner.