There is one newspaper of record in this City, the Houston Chronicle. Longer than I have been alive, it has completed its editorial endorsement process in a very particular way that is not all that different from any other respectable print publication in the world.
The publication gets the candidates in a room and asks them questions. Thereafter, it renders its decision. The meeting is closed and confidential. The rationale for this is somewhat straightforward. The Houston Chronicle has a vested interest in making money. They make money by selling newspapers, and they sell newspapers by writing articles people want to read. One of these editorial endorsements is a perfect example of such an article.
Accordingly, the Houston Chronicle would not be keen on the idea of letting outside media come into this meeting, nor would they be open to one of its participants filming and distributing copies of the meeting himself. But those are the same exact requests that Ben Hall’s campaign repeatedly and inanely made to the paper.
After making the demands over and over again, all the while being continuously rebuffed, the Houston Chronicle reported that Ben Hall cancelled his appearance at the screening just fifteen minutes before it began.
Hall’s campaign sent out a press release around the same time, where he slammed both Parker and the Chronicle:
“Mayoral candidate Ben Hall has canceled a joint screening with the Houston Chronicle editorial staff and Ms. Annise Parker. The cancellation follows after weeks of requests to the Chronicle to open the screening process to the general public or members of the media. No allowance was made for the Hall campaign to film the meeting for distribution. Negotiations with the Chronicle ended in a disrespectful “No” from their executive vice president.
The Chronicle refuses to scrutinize Ms. Parker’s record or to cover her failures. They are all but silent on her corrupt pay-to-play practices, her lies and mismanagement of the drainage fee, her lack of solutions to the pension liabilities, her ethical violations and financial improprieties, and her use of pet projects to fool voters into believing she has solutions to Houston’s real challenges. Voters deserve to know but the Chronicle does not feel that it is in their interest to tell them.”
Once again, I cannot help but to roll my eyes intently at this entire production. If the Chronicle had held open meetings in the past, and was now refusing to do so because of the Mayor’s objections, it would a different story. But they never have held open meetings in my lifetime, at least.
Hall has already received support from conservatives who, for some reason, loathe the Chronicle, for this decision. The campaign also insinuated a belief that the Chronicle was so biased in favor of Parker that it would be unfair to hold a secretive meeting.
This is the big problem with Tea Partiers. They are so far to the right, that they accuse anything and everything of being biased. I tend to think that the Chronicle holds a nice, centrist position on the issues, and it angers me plenty of times with its endorsements. Mitt Romney, for starters.
Beginning with the TV ad story, this has turned out to be a very, very bad day for Ben Hall.