Union-Tribune columnist James Goldsborough quits after one of his columns is censored. A thousand miles away, the Rev. Jesse Jackson investigates complaints of election irregularities in Ohio. San Diegans stage protests over shoddy election coverage by mass-media outlets. On the other side of the country, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's office is besieged by angry voters. Unrelated events? Not according to chaos theory or San Diegan Cheryl Ede.
On Dec. 9, Ede and more than 50 other protesters gathered at the Union-Tribune's headquarters in Mission Valley to speak out against what they called the paper's "blackout and censorship" of national election coverage. With the obligatory placards and megaphone, the group marched up and down the street in front of the building's dark-tinted windows, chanting "free press, nothing less."
"The San Diego Union-Tribune has discredited any complaints about voter fraud in their editorials," said Ede. "There are national recounts going on; it's been broadcast on C-SPAN.... There are election protests going on all across the country, but you see no one in the mainstream media talking about them."
During the hour-long demonstration, Union-Tribune writer Jennifer Davies emerged from the paper's offices and interviewed Ede and fellow protester Paul Spiegelman. Happy to see their protest was getting a response, the two swamped Davies with allegations of massive voter fraud, election rigging and backroom deals between Republicans and voting machine manufacturers.
But the event wasn't just an assault on the Union-Tribune-it was also a call for media outlets everywhere to cover "the biggest story in the country," said Spiegelman.
"The national media has done such a poor job with this election," he said. "The Union has done a wonderful job with the mayoral race, and we thank them for that, but they've done nothing with the recounts in the presidential elections. There are allegations that the Republicans stole this election, but the media is ignoring this."
Not all the demonstrators shared Spiegelman's kind words for San Diego's leading daily. After Davies returned inside, one protester shouted "I wouldn't even line my cat's litter box with your right-wing rag" past the paper's smiling security guard.
Ede said her letters and calls to the paper have also gone unanswered, so she's taking her crusade elsewhere.
"I'm not waiting for the Union-Tribune to improve," she said. "I'm sending a letter to [the] L.A. Times requesting them to reopen a San Diego edition of the Times."The following day there was no story in the Union-Tribune about the demonstration. However, U-T public relations manager Drew Schlosberg did offer this official writtenstatement: "Approximately two- to three-dozen orderly and peaceful people gathered outside the Mission Valley office of The San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday, discussing a variety of issues. The Union-Tribune supports their right of free speech."