Chiu mailer highlights Guardian praise, despite our Campos endorsement


Politics is dirty business, and I should never underestimate the willingness of politicians to turn any editorial praise they receive into an electoral advantage, distorting the context as needed, a lesson that I was reminded of this week.

Several Guardian readers have called me this week to complain about a mailer dropped on voters by the David Chiu for Assembly campaign, which includes long quotes from Chiu’s endorsements by the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area Reporter, as well as positive quotes from the Bay Guardian and San Francisco Examiner.

Although neither the Guardian nor the Examiner has endorsed Chiu — we enthusiastically endorsed David Campos in that race, while the Examiner is waiting until the fall rematch to do endorsements — our readers said the flyer left the impression that we had.

Chiu campaign spokesperson Nicole Derse disputes that view. “It definitely did not leave that impression,” she told me. “We were very clear about who has endorsed.” She said the Examiner and Guardian were included because “it’s important to highlight objective sources like newspapers.”

The Guardian quote was from a July 23, 2013 blog post in which I indeed wrote, “It is Chiu and his bustling office of top aides that have done most of the heavy legislation lifting this year, finding compromise solutions to some of the most vexing issues facing the city.”

It was certainly true at the time, although I received a lot criticism for what I wrote from the progressive community, which pointed out how Chiu had maneuvered himself into the swing vote position on key issues such as condo conversions and CEQA reform. And the compromises Chiu forged actually allowed fiscal conservatives to erode San Francisco’s standing as a progessive city while burgeoning his own political resume.

So I ran another blog post to air those concerns, and then we ran a hybrid of the two in the next week’s paper that closes with this line, “In the end, Chiu can be seen as an effective legislator, a centrist compromiser, or both. Perspective is everything in politics.” BTW, in that original post, I also noted that the Airbnb legislation Chiu was working on should challenge his political skills and reputation, and indeed it took many more months to introduce and has been met by a storm of criticism, becoming the marquee political fight of the summer at City Hall.

After that first post, I also heard from Campos and his supporters predicting that the Chiu campaign would use my well-meaning praise to convey support from the Guardian in a misleading way, a prophecy that has now proven prescient.

But I also think that Campos has done a good job at undermining Chiu’s greatest strength in this election, that of being an effective legislator, by hammering on the reality that things have gotten worse for the average San Francisco because Chiu and his allies have been most effective on behalf of the tech companies, landlords, and other rich and powerful interests that are undermining the city’s diversity, affordability, and progressive values.

"Effective for whom? That's what's important," Campos told us during his endorsement interview, noting that, "Most people in San Francisco have been left behind and out of that prosperity."

Chiu’s campaign counters by overtly and in whisper campaigns saying that progressives can’t be effective in Sacramento, blatantly overlooking the fact that the incumbent he’s running to replace, Tom Ammiano, has been both a consistent, trustworthy progressive, and an effective legislator who has gotten more bills signed than most of his colleagues, even as he takes on tough issues like reforms to Prop. 13 and prison conditions.

And Ammiano hasn’t just said good things about David Campos, his chosen successor -- Ammiano has actually endorsed Campos. 


without quoting the full context.

If you said good things about Chiu, which you did, then you cannot expect people to ignore them.

Your ambiguity about this race was noted.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 10:27 am

So this battle has to be fought twice? Once in the primary as a warmup act, and then in November?

The flyers will make good kindling for campfires.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 10:50 am

the November election, and whoever they put up will win easily, so effectively it is the June race that matters.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 11:16 am

face off in November if they are the two highest vote getters in June.

Weird but that's how it works.

Whichever of them wins in June will have a big psychological advantage and will probably get more funding.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 11:21 am
Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 11:18 am

Republicans will probably vote for whomever they hate the most of Chiu and Campos - probably Campos.

So Chiu may win because of non-Democrats voting tactically.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 11:22 am

The Guardian has a longstanding record of giving its opponents ammunition against its allies in an effort to appear fair and balanced and seeing that ammunition used over and again.

Posted by marcos on May. 28, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

Nor their vacillation over the Olague re-election disaster.

And they haven't backed a winner in the mayoral race for three decades.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

Angela Allioto: The Guardian Recommendation before Gel-Head became mayor.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

and well played by Chiu.
c'mon, there was nothing in that mailer that implied that SFBG endorsed Chiu, they just simply reprinted words you had written, and it the proper context, ta boot.

and as for a whisper campaign? yawn. not so secret if the are "overtly" saying it as well.

and congrats to Chiu, for receiving the Bay Area Reporter endorsement. Imagine that, a straight man winning the endorsement from a gay publication. Says an awful lot about the gay candidate, if you ask me.

and let me ask this in reference to your statement: After that first post, I also heard from Campos and his supporters predicting that the Chiu campaign would use my well-meaning praise to convey support from the Guardian in a misleading way, a prophecy that has now proven prescient.

if Team Campos had seen the article before it went to print and made such predictions about its use, would you have still gone ahead and printed it, or are you so in the pocket of Campos that you'd have stifled your true sentiment?

Posted by guestD on May. 28, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

while Campos hasn't been seen in the gayest part of the city since the campaign started.

Heck, Chiu was outside Mollie Stones on 18th Street a few weeks back. Campos never leaves his comfort zone which, I assume, doesn't include the Castro.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

He was at Harvey Milk Plaza for a Castro event on May 17 and at the Milk Club birthday party for Harvey last week

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

How many times have progressives complained about puff pieces about David Chiu here? Are you really surprised he'd use your puff pieces as ammunition?

Posted by Greg on May. 28, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

I don't always agree with Steven and find some of his personal and ideological promotion to be self-indulgent and a turn-off. But he's in the trenches, making waves and asking questions. All in all, as a resident with ambiguous views on many city issues, I appreciate his work even when it goes against my own and the things I support.

But this story is stupid. If a newspaper says something nice about a politician, said politician is going to promote the nice thing that was said. I fail to see how Chiu using the Guardian's words is even remotely newsworthy. Truly. This doesn't even deserve a blog post.

Editorial fail.

Posted by BeckyBayside on May. 29, 2014 @ 9:58 am

I remember when this whole thing went down.

Steven was relatively new in his job and wrote the piece that was positive on Chiu's ability to mediate and get things done.

The Progressive PTBs came down on him pretty quickly. Tim Redmond even admonished him by name in his new blog. Apparently Campos said something to him as well. Properly chastised, Steven tried to craft some type of apology/explanation in a second post.

Since then Steven has learned his lesson. He knows that his job isn't to write open descriptions of what he sees going on at City Hall...his job is to write things that will help Progressive heroes like Campos. Anything else puts him in danger of being voted off Progressive Island.

If you've seen the Chiu mailer you know that it is 100% copacetic. Steven's claims that Chiu should also have included some of the less-than-positive SFBG statements is sad.

Funny, but sad.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 11:48 am
Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

Totally agree.

Steve was the relative voice of reason compared to Tim Redmond, but he's succumbed to the pressure of being the mouthpiece of the David Campos campaign.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 10:03 pm

It is sad commentary the writer feels obliged to pander to the hateful progressives by backtracking on something that praises an opponent of Social Democracy.
Progressives aren't progressive at all.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 01, 2014 @ 6:32 am
Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

lol haha once again steve got played, he fellated Chiu with florid prose and now it's being thrown back at him all's fair , stevie! once again your failures and your fellating of power prove you're a joke. hope you are out of a job and this "paper" folds soon!

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2014 @ 10:00 am

I saw the comment in the flyer and wondered about it. It's a reminder that complimentary language about a politician should not be included in the voice of the writer unless it's backed up with context and facts. Unfortunately that's not the case in much of our news copy today.

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2014 @ 10:09 am

Ryan Chamberlain. Clemens? Mosher?

Posted by marcos on Jun. 01, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

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