Friday, September 9, 2011

The Plain Dealer still doesn't seem to get it

Tonight, we have another followup to our post on the obvious conflict of interest that the Plain Dealer had on its hands when columnist Connie Schultz was caught engaging in political activity while also researching for her column at an event attended by Josh Mandel, the likely challenger to her husband, Senator Sherrod Brown. No, I'm not going to beat up on Connie some more. Once exposed, she came out and admitted her mistakes.

This next issue involves Connie Schultz, but I expect this decision was made by the PD editorial staff. Below are scans of the print version from two of Schultz's recent columns. The first is from her August 31st column titled "Voter fraud is just a dark GOP fantasy". The second is her now infamous column in which she addressed her actions at the Tea Party rally, "Lesson learned".

Notice the difference?

There was a rumor that the Plain Dealer was going to stop putting the disclosure stating that Connie Schultz is married to Senator Sherrod Brown at the end of her columns. You would think that after this week's kerfluffle, they would have changed their minds about that, and kept the disclosure in place. Even Connie agrees with me.
You, the reader, should always be trusted to make up your own mind about whether my writing presents a conflict. That's why transparency matters. I am in the unique position of being a newspaper columnist married to a U.S. senator. My opinions are my own, but I must be ever vigilant to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. I'm sorry I didn't let you know Mandel showed up.


As the U.S. Senate race progresses, the public scrutiny of me will only heighten. I have to be ever-vigilant to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. That means I'm going to have to mention my husband more often than I want.
I thought that removing the disclosure would be a bad idea, but removing it after what just happened is a really bad idea. You've just been stung in a conflict of interest where your top columnist had to devote an entire column to an apology, and your reaction is...less transparency about the situation?

If you're reading this blog, you are probably a politico like me, and already knew that Schultz was married to Brown. However, living in Northeast Ohio, I have had several people comment to me regarding one of Schultz's columns, who didn't know that. In every case, after I told them, their reaction was, "they should tell people that!"

And while I don't have the cached pages to prove it, I believe I recall seeing the disclosure on the online versions of her column in the past. But it certainly isn't there now. It should be.

The Plain Dealer, like many newspapers around the country, are suffering large losses in readership. Surveys have shown that a majority of the American public believe that the mainstream media is biased towards the left. Episodes like they had this week, and their latest decision to stop being transparent about Schultz's relationship to the most liberal Senator in the country, isn't helping their case.

UPDATE 9/19: Schultz resigns


  1. As a former journalist I'm both appalled and disgusted by this -- but certainly not surprised.

    I have one question to the PD: Why is this columnist allowed to get anywhere near anything political, given her connections?

    From the moment her husband announced his candidacy, the ETHICAL thing to have done would be to recuse yourself from writing about politics. All politics.

    For God's sake, cover school news, sports or anything else but politics, even if that has been your beat since forever.

    To do anything less than that is a blatant violation of journalistic ethics, which mandate you have no (even apparent) conflict of interest.

    This shows me that journalists in this country have simply abandoned all pretense of objectivity. They know the world (well the rational world) knows they're biased to the left and simply don't care if their work displays it, anymore.

    Sad, pathetic and disgusting to see where my former profession has gone.

  2. Yep, the Cleveland Plain Dealer... what with Ron O'Brien on its staff, that it endorsed Kasich. LOL.

    She writes a column ABOUT being Sherrod's wife... why another disclaimer. God, you sound like a products liability lawyer! There should have been another label!


No profanity, keep it clean.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.