Monday, August 10, 2015

Journalism! Oh well.

To understand this Journalism Thing, you need to know a few background facts:

1. The San Francisco Chronicle is San Francisco's only big-time, still-printed-on-paper-every-day newspaper.  I get it delivered to my door!  I'm old school like that.  Also, just old.  Anyway, being the single most important newspaper in SF comes with a Civic Responsibility, I think.  It is my belief that a city's newspaper should serve as the citizenry's watchdog, unafraid to keep a careful eye on what government is doing for and to its people.

2. There have been some questions about whether the Chron is living up to this solemn responsibility.

3. Former mayor Willie Brown writes a weekly column for the Chronicle, which appears on Sundays.  It is a strange, although not-unpleasant melange of lightweight political observations, very, very lightweight movie reviews, and almost certainly fabricated anecdotes in which normal folks encounter Willie and inevitably share quoteworthy bon mots.  (Example:  A guy came up to me at Town Hall on Thursday night and asked me, “You know what is both the shortest and the longest sentence in the English language?” “I do.” Complete strangers apparently approach Willie Brown at dinner with sub-Borscht-Belt level jokes.)

4. The defense in the Raymond Chow case has suggested, in court filings, that Mayor Ed Lee accepted bribes, a parctice he inherited from former Mayor Willie Brown.

Now, that sounds like a juicy story for a newspaper to investigate!  Not one but TWO former mayors taking bribes!  But wait!  Is the San Francisco Chronicle going to investigate San Francisco Chronicle columnist Willie Brown?

They don't need to!  Willie Brown has told us, on the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, that he didn't take any bribes at all!  

I could feign surprise or even indignation at seeing my name dropped in FBI wiretap transcripts as having taught the folks at City Hall the art of “pay to play” politics. But in all honesty, after 40 years of innuendo and countless investigations, I’m used to it.
So when federal court filings quoted former Human Rights Commission compliance officer Zula Jones as telling an FBI undercover agent in the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow case that I taught her everything there is to know about laundering campaign contributions, I could only chuckle.
I have never talked about campaign contributions with Jones in my life. And I would not know her cohort who shows up in the Chow case, former Human Rights Commissioner Nazly Mohajer, if she bumped into me on the street.
I do know, however, that for years the FBI has targeted sting operations at black officials and other minority politicians all across the nation. That is why, in all my years in office, I treated every phone call as if it were being taped and everyone I spoke to as if they were wearing a wire.

So stand down, citizens.  All is well!

I tweeted about this apparent - well, you could say apparent or you could say GLOWING LIKE THE SURFACE OF THE SUN OBVIOUS - conflict of interest yesterday:




Through the good replies of my fellow citizens, I found that questions about the relationship between Brown and the Chronicle have been raised before, like in this article by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez in the sadly defunct Bay Guardian. Somebody should pay Joe to look into this more.  Surely with the billions of dollars sloshing around this town we can fund some investigative reporting.  One less laundry app!  Uber for muckraking!

(It feels weird to write about questionable journalism without Debra J. Saunders being involved, but don't worry, Debra, I'm sure you'll be featured again soon.  The odds are in my favor.)

5 comments:

GG said...

The good news is that this post elevates you to among the 5 actual journalists remaining in SF.

Michael Strickland said...

Welcome to the very small club (of 5 actual journalists). The Chronicle has been a national embarrassment for decades. I moved here in the 1970s and the paper was awful but entertaining. By the 1990s, it was awful and not entertaining, and I vowed never to purchase a printed copy ever again (I slipped, a few times, here and there). At this point, they are so obviously a propaganda organ for the most old-fashioned, corrupt forces in San Francisco that it's become a bizarre joke. To be perfectly honest, I'm rather enjoying this late Baroque Phase of the Chronicle before it self-destructs altogether. I'll invite you and the four other journalists to a beach bonfire after that happens.

Todd Lappin/Telstar Logistics said...

Great piece. But, not Joe. He's part of the problem too. Just, the other side of the problem.

Greg said...

lol joe rodriguez lol

IDOL HANDS said...

This answer is magnificent and worthy of the post.