Way back when, we used to comment on the Chronicle‘s strange practice of allowing its Austin Bureau chief at the time, Clay Robison, to write partisan lefty screeds on the weekends, while overseeing the bureau’s straight, objective *wink* news coverage the rest of the time.
It seems old habits die hard at the Hearst newspaper(s).
A couple of weeks ago, the Hearst DC Bureau chief, David McCumber, penned an anti-NRA screed that appeared in one Hearst Texas newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News, in its Local News section (oddly, the piece does not seem to have appeared in the Hearst Houston paper, the Chronicle). Does the following excerpt seem like straight news reporting?
The NRA loves to throw its weight around in Washington. It wields the money it gets from the gun industry and the phone calls to the Hill it commands from its members, and ignores the carnage that has resulted: More than 30,000 deaths from gun violence every year in this country.
Those senator-dialing NRA members personally, individually and collectively own that number because of the damage done by the extremists who long ago hijacked their organization.
The congressmen they buy are afraid to vote their consciences. The senators they buy talk claptrap about being careful that background checks don’t infringe on the Second Amendment. Why does the NRA’s view of the Second Amendment get to infringe on 30,000 lives a year?
Here’s the real political calculus of the gun issue: Silent majorities don’t get things done. People who favor sane gun laws need to be at least as motivated as the organization that has jammed the current system down America’s throat. They need to get involved, so the voices of the few who have lost so much will not go unanswered.
Answer to the question above: No, it does not seem like straight news reporting.
Even if the anti-NRA screed was misplaced, and really was intended as an editorial, it still calls into question the (apparent) left-wing DC Bureau Chief’s ability to produce and oversee straight, objective reporting from his bureau. Just as Clay Robison’s lefty ranting in the weekend Chronicle didn’t inspire confidence in the reporting from the bureau he oversaw in Austin.
McCumber became Hearst’s DC Bureau chief in a bizarre shakeup in 2012, which saw Richard Dunham (generally regarded as a fairly straight shooter and fair journalist*) demoted to the position of writer reporting to McCumber. Dunham has since moved on to a new gig in China, and still tweets a fair amount of Texas and American politics (with more balance, we might add, than his replacement).
* Dunham continued to link to this blog on occasion, even after the powers at 801 Texas Avenue ordered it scrubbed from chron.com