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September 28, 2006

Newspapers help fund initiative to repeal estate tax

Posted by David Postman at 7:17 AM

Horsesass.org says that newspapers in Washington are helping to fund the initiative to repeal the estate tax. And it's not this paper. That's still an opportunity for Goldy to trash Times publisher Frank Blethen some more. But wade through that and you'll see The Columbian has given $5,000 and Pioneer Newspapers, which owns a chain of small papers, including the Skagit Valley Herald and the Ellensburg Record, has given $25,000.

Blethen has said he will not make financial contributions to the campaign and I have not heard anything to think that has changed. Blethen and Times lobbyist Jill Mackie have discussed the initiative with its sponsors and backers and, Blethen said in August, "may be involved on the periphery."

I feel for the reporters in Vancouver and at Pioneer papers in the state, because there's no question that when the corporate side of the paper involves itself in politics it makes it harder for those of us on the news side.

Blethen and I talked about that in August for a post here about his lobbying on the federal estate tax:

Blethen said he knows that people in the newsroom are uncomfortable with his political activity on the estate tax. He said editor Mike Fancher has made it clear on many occasions and said former Managing Editor Alex MacLeod was "far less subtle. He just looked me in the eye and said, 'You shouldn't be doing this.' And I'd say, 'Your job is to make sure we don't affect anything you do.' "

MORE: Yhese newspaper contributions did not go to Dennis Falk's group that sponsored the initiative and got it on the ballot. Instead the papers are giving to Keeping Washington Family Business Alive, the group started by the NFIB and the Association of Washington Business to push 920.

As Blethen said above, news people don't like it when the business side gets involved in politics. But the editorial side needs to worry, too. The day after The Columbian donation, the paper ran an op-ed piece by AWB President Don Brunell promoting I-920, with no mention of the paper's involvement in the campaign.

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