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Free And Equal: Media Ignores Ethic of Balanced Reporting in Effort to Push Agenda

SAN FRANCISCO – The recently finished campaign surrounding Proposition 14 in California has revealed startling insights into the way media outlets cover essential issues facing voters. Since the proposition passed June 8, Free and Equal Elections staff have continued to follow media coverage of Proposition 14 in California and the spread of the Top Two idea across the country.

Semi-official results were updated by the California Secretary of State June 30 and final results are scheduled for release July 16. The current count shows Proposition 14 passing 2,774,634 (53.7%) to 2,398,843 (46.3%). With 16.9 million registered voters in California, Proposition 14 passed with less than 16.5% of registered voters supporting it. Voter turnout was 30%.

“If half of the media in California who covered Proposition 14 practiced ethical, balanced journalism, the proposition would have failed hands down,” said Christina Tobin, chair and founder of Free & Equal Elections Foundation. “Looking at initial returns from county elections offices, people who voted in person on Election Day rejected this democracy limiting ballot measure. More than half the ballots were cast early by mail, before the media gave opponents an opportunity to point out the flaws in Proposition 14.”

The July 1, 2010 subscription issue of Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News provides an in-depth examination of the coverage the media gave to Proposition 14 in his feature article, “California Passes Proposition 14, Removes Minor Parties From the General Election Campaign.” The article will be published on Winger’s website,, after the August 1 subscription issue is released.

In his report, Winger points out inaccuracies appearing in the San Jose Mercury News, Monterey County Herald and Sacramento Bee. Only a few articles during the campaign pointed out the history of Top Two election systems in Washington and Louisiana. No independent or third party candidates have ever made the general election ballot under either state’s Top Two election system, but the California media ignored that flaw of Proposition 14. The Los Angeles Times, according to Winger, ran only one op-ed critical of Proposition 14 and that was 16 months before the election.

“The Los Angeles Times had the worst reporting on Proposition 14. will ensure everyone knows which media outlets lived up to the ethics of balanced coverage,” Tobin said. “There are also those who did an excellent job, and the public will know who they can turn to for fair and balanced coverage.”

“Every major newspaper editorial board in California endorsed the Top Two election system,” Tobin said. “That political agenda obviously slanted their coverage in favor of Proposition 14. They hid crucial information from the voters and failed to uphold the principles of honest journalism. It doesn’t help the print media retain customers when they fail to provide the big picture for educating their readers. What remains to be seen is how much advertising revenue they will draw from those business interests who supported Prop 14.”

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  1. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes July 14, 2010

    Since PLAS should be tries first asap, that statement was intended to be sarcastic.

  2. NewFederalist NewFederalist July 14, 2010

    “…maybe PLAS might have to be tried as a last resort…”

    Um… maybe.

  3. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes July 14, 2010

    This reminds me of the MSM coverage of the approach of the invasion of Iraq. It was very one-sided. Only years later did some recognize this & express regret.
    If all else fails, court action, etc., maybe PLAS might have to be tried as a last resort. it has a good chance of getting either a Green or Libertarian in the top 2. After that in November it will be VERY close.A Green or Lib. v a dem or rep. Who knows?

  4. Gary // (Odom, the disgraced lawyer?)

    I wrote a letter to the editor opposing 14.
    (similar experience[s])

    It was like I was an alien from Planet X speaking gibberish. (gee, I get this even on Politics1, BAN, and IPR)

    He had no idea that any other point of view even existed. (he had EVERY idea!)

    My conclusion is simply that the press is made up of total morons. (No, you are the Maroon [Cody Banks Quirk] for thinking that this is accidental and or not preconceived. If the media is so stupid, how they get their way so often ???????????)

    (and you wonder why Don Lake PLEADS for multiple letters to the editor ………..)

    (if this is the Riverside Press Express and or the San Bernardino County Sun, then they did the same thing to me viz a viz abused veterans issues a decade ago. Ah the objective and fair minded California ‘Inland Empire’ ……..)

  5. Gary Gary July 14, 2010

    I wrote a letter to the editor opposing 14. The Editor of the newspaper himself sent me an e-mail. He questioned every single line of my letter and DEMANDED that I prove to him that everything I said was true.

    It was like I was an alien from Planet X speaking gibberish. He had no idea that any other point of view even existed. My conclusion is simply that the press is made up of total morons.

  6. Welcome to the world of the grossly slanted ‘Copley Press’ and ‘new owners / same game’ San Diego Union Tribune! Gee Tobin, just another piece of evidence that you need to make allies, not enemies!

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