In a blog posting last week, Vanlandingham presented what he said is an unedited email exchange between himself and an editor at the newspaper chain. The subject of the email began as a request in early May to be included in the paper’s endorsement process, but quickly evolved into a biting media critique by Vanlandingham.
“I’m sorry Joel, we do not plan to interview you,” wrote Barbara Marshman on May 6. When Vanlandingham asked for further explanation, she responded the same day. “Joel, many interesting people run for public office, but we do not interview candidates who don’t have a political base or source of funding to run a viable campaign. It’s great to have different ideas out there, and we certainly wish you well.”
Vanlanding was flummoxed by the response. “Just so I am clear,” he wrote. “I am not being interviewed (like the other candidates Mike Honda, Ro Khanna and Vanila Singh) because I am not raising hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for my campaign. But, directing supporters to donate to charities? Is that what you mean by source of funding? I must tell you that is VERY disturbing.”
Vanlandingham continued: “It would seem that the Bay Area News Group is not about news at all but, only about selling newspapers. “I must say, it is a very sad day when Journalism is trumped by Money and a newspaper dies and becomes a biased circular.”
In some East Bay statewide races dominated by strong incumbents, the Bay Area News Group did even bother to interview candidates, including the incumbent. The paper's editors told 20th Assembly District candidate Jaime Patino, a Republican, it did not have the resources to conduct interviews for his race against Assemblymember Bill Quirk, a Democrat. Like Vanlandingham, Patino does not possess significant fundraising or a sizable base of support.
“It’s not just money, Joel, it’s any capacity to win–fame, legions of volunteers going door to door, anything that offers even a remote prospect of success,” said Marshman. “In most races there are multiple candidates who run for various reasons but are not serious contenders. Perhaps if you get your name out there somehow in this race, you can gather support to build on and be a contender in the future, for this or mayor or whatever. But one editorial recommendation will not do that, even if we were to choose you enthusiastically as the best candidate.”
The paper decided to endorse Khanna.