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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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News + PoliticsChron rejects comments critical of Boudin editorial

Chron rejects comments critical of Boudin editorial

Comments supporting the DA don't seem to violate the paper's standards; why were they blocked?


The San Francisco Chronicle ran yet another nasty piece attacking the new district attorney, this time an editorial blaming him for the hit-and-run killing of two people.

That’s the paper’s right; the Chron has its own positions, and I can disagree with them, but the paper can say anything it wants on its editorial page.

Why are supporters of Chesa Boudin getting blocked from the Chron’s website?

But I’m curious: Some supporters of Boudin posted comments on the editorial, and they were removed because they violated the paper’s comments policy.

The policy says that it’s wants readers to “share their views and exchange ideas in a safe space.” Good. So: “Comments will be removed if they include “insults, profanity, incoherent, obscene or inflammatory language and threats of any kind.”

So why did this comment, by Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young, get deleted?

At the start of your editorials trashing Boudin you should alert your readers that you openly supported his opponent during the election & that every editorial you wrote then also trashed him & his background. You should remind readers of your incredibly one-sided Op-Ed pages that you never called out the POA for their racist attacks on Boudin. If you were worthy of the profession that honors its best with the Edward R. Murrow Award, you would remind readers that Boudin was elected because everything tried by his predecessors, including Kamala Harris, also FAILED. If you cared for your readers to engage in critical thinking, you would encourage them to examine the social conditions that breed crime; for example, structural racism, poverty, drug addiction & mental illness. Your finger pointing is sophomoric and unhelpful. What Boudin is trying to address are the tried & true but failed approaches to crime. The fixes don’t happen overnight & require the cooperation of those with their hands on levers of power & purse strings, such as the BOS & the Mayor. Instead of attacking him when a tragedy like the deaths of Hanako Abe & Elizabeth Pratt occurs, instead call for a roundtable of educated, informed people in the area of criminal justice reform & sponsor an open & public forum where ideas & possible solutions can be brainstormed? Your Op-Ed is useless venting & offers no solutions.

Or this one, from Deputy Public Defender Sujung Kim:

The Chronicle has no credibility on this issue. First, during Boudin’s campaign for DA, your paper exploited his  background as a public defender and the son of former Weather Underground members to imply he would bring a radical agenda to the office, while offering little analysis of critically-needed criminal justice reforms in SF: from combatting the years-long lack of prosecuting police killings of Black and Brown victims, to addressing SFPD’s distinction as having one of the lowest violent crime-solving rates of any major police force in CA, and remedying the epidemic of pervasive racism and homophobia in the SFPD ranks uncovered by federal oversight receivers, among others. Second, with some investigation, your paper would have learned that the system is set up for parolees who commit nonviolent violations to be handled by parole agencies, who can send parolees back to prison faster and easier than prosecutors bringing new charges that requires the higher burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Under this system, most DAs would typically send parole violators like McAlister, whose past violations have been drug and theft-related with nothing to indicate he would likely commit the offenses of which he’s now accused, to parole to handle. If this tragic situation resulted from a systemic failure, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Your paper’s scapegoating of Boudin as shouldering the bulk the responsibility is an unfair and false narrative with frankly racist overtones that exploits the death of these two women without offering any helpful solutions to promote justice and healing.

Or this one, from Deputy Public Defender Andrea Lindsay:

Once again, the Chronicle joins the ranks of “journalists” seeking to use a tragedy as a political football. Apparently, nothing was learned from the Chronicle’s blind fanning of the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment in the Steinle case (all the while giving a big boost to Trump’s platform during the last election). This simplistic, knee jerk reaction view of the criminal justice system is precisely what led us to mass incarceration, the failed war on drugs, and draconian sentencing laws. What Boudin’s administration is faced with is untangling decades of failed approaches to criminal justice–including the failures of his predecessors, who refused to allow Mr. McAllister to enter a long term residential treatment program when previously incarcerated. What the hard data shows is that treatment and support services reduce recidivism far more than incarceration, particularly lengthy incarceration. Ms. Platt’s family, in the throes of grief, even noted that she would have likely opposed any recall of Mr. Boudin and probably would have thought him not liberal enough. We as a City should not let this tragedy be the latest war cry for Boudin’s opponents, but rather continue to the hard, complex work of addressing a failed criminal justice system.

Here’s what the Chron told her:

Your comment on Editorial: A horrific crime undercuts progressive goals of S.F. D.A. Chesa Boudin has been rejected as we found similar content to be offensive to other community members

Your comment on Editorial: A horrific crime undercuts progressive goals of S.F. D.A. Chesa Boudin has been rejected as it contains content that is in breach of our community guidelines.

I don’t see anything in any of those comments that would violate the Chron’s policy.

I emailed John Diaz, the editorial page editor, who has never once in his career responded to a single one of my questions, and it’s no surprise he is keeping up his pattern. I also emailed Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the new editor, and he hasn’t answered either.

I’ll let you know if they decide to explain themselves.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. Tim and Marke regularly banned commenters when they hit too close to home on the SFBG/48Hills ethical conflicts.

  2. Tim,

    Ahhh, that’s 3 people the Chron won’t publish …



    and …

    Noam Chomsky

    Good company I’d say.

    When Eve Batey was head of SF Gate she developed a tool called, ‘gray listing’.

    You posted your thoughts and they appeared only to you.

    Last head of their posts told me that if more than 2 people complained about a post?

    They remove it.

    You and Eskenazi are only honest editors left in town.

    Deborah Peterson published my comments under her regime and I thought Clint Reilly would do same.

    Not so.

    We’ll see.

    Go Warriors!

    Posey put on some muscle for what will probably be his last year.


  3. I don’t see the comments as a bad, but there was some name calling: the POA racist and the editor sophomoric? Saying the editorial had racist overtones.

  4. Hearst’s Chronicle is a Chamber of Commerce newsletter with the ethics of a viper. It does not do journalism. In fact, it sells bylined “news” stories to advertisers and does not label them as advertisements. This is called “native advertising” and the duplicitous practice is Hearst’s profit center.

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