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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Columbus Dispatch's Shady SB5 Reporting

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM


This November, Ohio voters will decide whether Senate Bill 5 lives or dies. Early polling has Ohio leaning toward repealing the controversial collective bargaining bill, and while that very well come to fruition, each side continues to battle for the hearts and minds of voters, and newspapers continue to weigh in with opinions.

The Columbus Dispatch, for example, published an editorial this past Sunday on the issue, and the paper, long viewed as leaning to the right and falling in line behind Governor Kasich, said that a movement was afoot for a compromise between the two sides, including Kasich, but labor pulled away. The report from the editorial, via Plunderbund:

Gov. John Kasich previously has made overtures to union leaders for compromise, but so far, union leaders have not reciprocated.

Simple enough, right? Kasich reached out, labor pulled back. Plunderbund, after looking into what actually happened, finds differently. Specifically, it finds the Dispatch playing in less than ethical waters.

According to them, the Dispatch newsroom on Tuesday reported on the "compromise" effort, but instead of John Kasich, reporters said someone else entirely was involved on the pro-SB5 side.

On Sunday, a Dispatch editorial called for proponents and opponents of Senate Bill 5 to reach a compromise that would require public employees to pay more for their health care and pensions but would strip away the bill’s provisions that aren’t related to controlling government costs.

Yesterday, sources told Dispatch reporters that informal discussions between two people affiliated with the defense of Senate Bill 5 and representatives from the Ohio Education Association and the AFL-CIO took place about six weeks ago, but labor backed away.

Two people affiliated with the defense of Senate Bill 5. Who were they? Not officially connected with the Governor's office at all, it turns out, but officially connected with the Columbus Dispatch. One of the people, according to Plunderbund, was Mike Curtin, former COO of the Dispatch Printing Company.

But who were the two people affiliated with the defense of Senate Bill 5? And how did the Columbus Dispatch editorial board seem to know about this deal before its own newsroom? Simple…because the Dispatch essentially was one of the people representing pro-SB 5 interests at the meeting.

Mike Curtin is the former Vice-Chairman and COO of the Dispatch Printing Company. He’s still quoted by Ohio media outlets as speaking for the Dispatch even though he’s technically retired, like on the casino issue in Columbus for example.

And that, they surmise, is why the editorial board reported on the "meeting" and labor's "pull-back" before reporters at the paper. Also, why the union would walk away — if the folks they were meeting with had no authority to make a deal, why bother talking to them?

Making the news vs. reporting the news. A paper with pro-Kasich and pro-SB5 ties editorializes that it's the unions fault that a compromise is off the table based on an account of a meeting by and from one of its people who wants labor to look bad. Got it? Good.

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