U-T San Diego is hosting a program this week that some critics are calling an attempt to train Republican candidates.
“The Republican Party of San Diego County sent out the invite to the event, which will be held on Tuesday night at the paper’s headquarters (business attire requested),” said San Diego City Beat. “County GOP chairman Tony Krvaric will also be on hand for the festivities.”
An invitation obtained by City Beat said the event is titled “The New U-T San Diego: A One-Stop Shop for Candidates.”
The two-hour program agenda includes remarks by John Lynch, U-T San Diego CEO, and a session called “Media Savvy: How to get noticed by the press.”
The paper’s editorial board will take part in a Q&A: “Who are they, how do they decide what to write about, how does one get endorsed?”
Editor Jeff Light and conservative columnist Roger Hedgecock also are set to speak.
Jess Durfee, the county’s Democratic Party chairman, told City Beat that his office received an invitation for another date.
“What we got was a draft [of an invitation] that would imply that the Democratic Party was inviting candidates” to the newspaper event, Durfee was quoted as saying. “They made no outreach whatsoever.”
He added: “We know that at the end of the day, in any competitive race, they will endorse a Republican.... It’s not an open and fair process.”
U-T San Diego, which recently ran an editorial labeling Barack Obama the worst president in U.S. history, recently launched a website called Seeing Red, a conservative view of politics, which links to external sites as well as U-T editorials.
A politics blog on the Los Angeles Times website said: “Since taking over the former San Diego Union-Tribune in 2011, developer Douglas Manchester has been clear about his political views. … Now, the paper’s top brass is hosting a media training for Republican candidates, giving them pointers on ‘how to get noticed by the press, how to craft a press release’ and tips on how to pick up the paper’s endorsement.”
MediaBistro blogger Matthew Fleischer wrote: “Wow. Looks like ... Manchester’s U-T San Diego isn’t even pretending to be an objective news source anymore.”
The event also was noted by the national site Politico, whose Dylan Myers wrote:
In June, U-T's chief executive John Lynch told the New York Times the paper made "no apologies" for its partisanship. “We are doing what a newspaper ought to do, which is to take positions," he said. But, he added, “We totally respect the journalistic integrity of our paper and there is a clear line of demarcation between our editorials and our news.”
Byers wrote: “Indeed, the line appears to be so clear as to be transparent.”