At 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, PD
reader representative Ted Diadiun published a lengthy explanation and mea culpa for the NEOMG's disastrous handling
of a gubernatorial endorsement interview video which was posted to, and then removed without explanation from, Cleveland.com.
In his column
, Diadiun said that the video was removed because VP of Digital Content Chris Quinn felt the candidates had been "unintentionally misled."
To be clear, there was a camera in the room, aimed directly at the candidates, visibly recording the conversation, and as a rule (according to other former candidates for political office), the editorial board alerts participants that endorsement interviews will be recorded. But candidates hadn't been explicitly told that a video
would be posted online. Only audio of earlier endorsement interviews had been published, after all.
Quinn "grew concerned," Diadiun wrote, after Kasich's campaign called him, "chagrined," to ask what happened. "He ultimately decided fairness compelled him to take it down."
Hear that, folks? Fairness.
Diadiun admitted that his explanation was tardy, but chalked the whole thing up to Quinn's "error in judgement." He certainly didn't acknowledge the timing of his own post or Quinn's sudden desire to come clean, i.e. hours after the election on which his "tough editorial decisions" directly impinged.
Indeed, when preeminent media blogger Jim Romesko contacted Diadiun for explanation
, Diadiun told him that he felt he had been in an "untenable situation" because Quinn refused to comment even to him (a sentiment he reiterated in Wednesday's column). But then he told Romenesko to "stay tuned."
Romenesko's piece was published Tuesday, November 4, with comments from Diadiun emailed prior to publication, obviously. We don't know for sure, but it seems like Diadiun had already spoken with Quinn and was sitting on the explanation until after the election.
page one Wednesday morning announced that the Ohio governor's race had been decided "months ago." And after the paper's fiendish reporting on Ed FitzGerald's parking lot rendezvous and driver's license lapse — one of the more ridiculous political scandals in recent memory — there was little to suggest that Kasich wouldn't win in a landslide, which he did
Local and national media have all blasted the NEOMG for the video stunt, and Quinn seems comfortable in the martyr's role.
“I thought that if I stated my reasons [for taking the video down], the obvious next step would be people going to the candidates and asking them if they had any objection to putting the video back up,” Quinn told Diadiun. “That would mean my error could put people into an uncomfortable situation. That’s not fair. I figured that if someone had to be uncomfortable because of my error, it should be me, so I stayed quiet and took the beating that ensued.”
Good for you, Chris!
Jay Rosen, who has called Quinn's silence "one of the greatest acts of stonewalling" he's seen in his 11 years of media criticism. wrote a quick response to Diadiun's post this morning:
If Chris Quinn is a man who can take the heat for the protection of principle, which is how he is painting this, then what about the principle that voters deserve to see their governor in action during the only face-to-face meeting of candidates? Quinn could have stood his ground and taken the heat from the Kasich camp. Instead, he chose different ground – less information for voters, fair warning to candidates – and took the heat from readers, local journalists and national media critics over that. Why did he make this choice of heats? We don’t know why.
Diadiun opined — despite choruses of comments to the contrary — that the deletion of the video did not deprive Ohio voters of "any important information" but said that the fact that it was removed without explanation made the NEOMG guilty of the "very thing for which we so often criticize others: transparency."
"Maintaining credibility is the most important thing we have to sell our readers, in the paper and on the website," he wrote. "Letting readers know why and how decisions are made bolsters their faith in what they read here, and it is the primary reason for this column. The failure to be immediately forthright, and particularly as this decision became a cause celebre, undoubtedly shook that faith in some readers."