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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cincinnati Enquirer Caught Covering Up News? Blackwell Case Blacked Out By Paper

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- If you read the Cincinnati Enquirer for news, you wouldn't know that Ken Blackwell's son is in a bit of a jam. The metro daily sells some 200,000 copies a day but couldn't find space for negative legal news out of the Ohio Supreme Court about the son of the 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate, who is also the son of the Cincinnati public school system's superintendent. No reporter produced a story; no editor seems to have demanded an article. There was a press release from the court. Ignored.

The Enquirer was scooped, and scooped big. Perhaps it was dozing. Or perhaps something more sinister occurred. Has it covered up a story that some editors recognized was important, but also would embarrass some politically connected Enquirer favorites?

There was a snippet in the paper's online political blog that linked to another publication's article. But the snippet's headline didn't even hint that somebody in the Blackwell clan's conduct was under a cloud and had been questioned as unethical. The Enquirer, of course, supported Blackwell over Democrat Ted Strickland in last fall's Ohio campaign for governor. Is it so enamored of the Blackwell name that it covers up news? Especially news about tests and exams -- which might be seen as reflecting somewhat negatively on Rosa Blackwell, a school administrator responsible for tests and exams. After all, her son was ensnared in a conflict about whether he had followed the rules on his state bar exam in Ohio.

While the story was blacked out from the Cincinnati morning daily's news pages, others were reporting what was up. The Dayton Daily News -- which is some 40 miles up I-75 from downtown Cincinnati -- even came up with audio of the Ohio Supreme Court's hearing regarding Blackwell's son. That indicates the Enquirer could have produced some kind of story even if it missed the court session. It could have transcribed the tape for the details -- or printed the transcript.

The political blogs in Ohio have been all over the Blackwell story, which has now become old news. But it's not old news in the pages of the Cincinnati Enquirer, where it never became news at all.

For years, there have been suspicions that the Enquirer, a unit the Gannett Co. Inc. publishing empire, is selective about what gets published. If it likes you or supports you, then the bad stuff gets censored, buried or blacked out. That was the way Pravda did it, too. This latest incident seems to add fuel to the suspicions -- this time there was a whiff of scandal around a politically connected family, the odor got into the wind, it made the news in Ohio. But it didn't make the Enquirer's pages. Bottomline: If you want to really know what's up with Cincinnati, you may have to start reading the newspaper in Dayton.


  1. Why is it news or of interest to anyone? Other than it's Blackwell's son - which is irrelevant - why would it be covered as news? If it was Blackwell or his wife, then I could see it. Your charges of cover-up or bias seem over-the-top.

    Should they print stories about other public figures' children's failings as "news"? Even Bush's and Gore's kids's screwups only got buried one day coverage that no one cared about. A few blogs kept it alive for a couple of days, but it just isn't anything anyone cared about - unless you're just looking to embarass someone (Blackwell) for some alternate reason or secondary gain.

  2. More appalling Enquirer coverage. Can't say I'm surprised. During the coingate scandal, the Enquirer ran only a fraction of the stories that all the other dailies ran. After the Noe trial concluded, I looked at Newsbank and compared the number of stories the Enquirer had run on the scandal vs. all the other papers. Obviously, the Toledo paper ran the most, but all the other papers ran many, many more than the Enquirer, regardless of what part of the state.

    It seems that the Enquirer is not eager to bring bad tidings about Republicans.

  3. My personal rule as a blogger is to maintain a huge distance away from politician's spouses and kids.

    What does this have to do with Blackwell's actions as a Republican former elected official?

  4. I am especially digging the way the lefty pro-surrender ads against Voinovich is getting the Enquirer's attention, but the pro-victory ads are not...

    Here's an idea: Maybe Ken Blackwell's SON isn't newsworthy. I didn't think Jennifer Brunner's son was newsworthy either... Some of us have moved on from '06, but I guess there is still some room for Blackwell hatred out there...

  5. Hi Chris --

    I understand your sentiment.

    But I wonder if that means you can't write anything about Hillary Clinton? Isn't she the spouse of a politician?

    And I guess George W. Bush is off-limits, too because his dad once was president.

    That said, your rule is a pretty good one. Perhaps there are times, though, when it has to be broken. Would you have written about Al Gore's kid and the recent California driving incident? I think it was news and legit. I wonder if it made the Enquirer's print edition? Maybe someone should check that out . . .

  6. Joe C. and Matt H.

    Two answers in one. Yes, it was news. You may not like the news, or what is happening at any given time. But you have to call it the way it happens. If any kid from a prominent family gets in a jam from now on, and the paper prints it, the paper looks hypocritical and biased.

    No joy here in the B kid's difficulties. Just a sense that the newspaper screwed up and screwed its customers.

    Matt -- If the Voino ad is out there, they should cover it. That said, the governor told a Demo crowd in Sandusky the other night that the Iraq War was a mistake. They didn't cover that either.

    My issue isn't Blackwell. It's the lousy performance of the newspaper. You certainly can understand that some readers might have found the story in the Ohio Supreme Court interesting. And I can understand that some readers might find the dueling Voino ads interesting. No argument from me on that at all.

  7. The follies, foibles and failings of the offspring (Patti Reagan), spouses (Mrs. Jeb Bush) and even brothers (Billy Carter) have always been news. Always will. It's infinitely interesting to see how the character gene runs through family lines and marriages.

  8. Anon @ 8:40,

    The relatives you mention are all of presidents or sitting governors. Blackwell was Sec State and a former gubernatorial candidate.


    I don't know whether the Enquirer knew about the story or not, but it was newsworthy. Not a major story, but worthy of a one or two paragraph blurb. I'm not sure who said this but someone once said "Don't ascribe to malice that which could be attributed to sloth and incompetence." In other words, the Enquirer could have missed the story as much for being lazy as anything else. Those of us on the right side politically see every screw up by the New York Times as a conscious political decision. I don't think these things are always that clear cut. Newspapers do slant news and headlines to fit their point of view. However, I don't think the publisher is approving every story or headline. Nope, papers end up leaning predominantly to the left because most people in the industry lean that way. So stories end up being tilted naturally to match their preconceived opinions.