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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cincinnati Enquirer's Marc Dann Coverage: No News Of The AG Scandal Has Appeared In Its Pages

[UPDATED TUESDAY 4/15, 7:00 AM -- A story appeared in this morning's print edition on page B-2 of the metro section. It broke a week long black out, and was mostly an AP report about developments over the weekend in Columbus. It contained two quotes from Cincinnati-area lawmakers, State Sen. Eric Kearney and State Rep. Steve Driehaus, both Democrats like Attorney General Marc Dann. Apparently, no Republicans were available for comment, or the newspaper did not contact any members of the opposition party. Kearney said of Dann: "He's a little provocative, but in a good way. It sounds like somebody did something they really shouldn't have done." Driehaus, who is running for the OH-01 congressional seat, was quoted saying: "Any of us who are accused of wrongdoing, or any of our staff that are accused of wrongdoing, it is incumbent upon all of us as elected officials to cooperate in the investigation, and I would expect the attorney general to do that." That's the latest from Cincinnati's morning metro daily about sexual harassment allegations in the attorney general's office, allegations that are rattling state government.]

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio's third-largest newspaper, has not yet published or produced a news story in its print edition (as this search shows) about the sexual harassment scandal now enveloping Democratic Ohio Atty. Gen. Marc Dann. The paper did print an editorial Saturday that calls for a special counsel on the case. But with what seems to be a news blackout in its printed pages, Enquirer customers might wonder: Why an opinion piece about something you have not told us anything about? If this isn't newsworthy, why bother with an editorial?

Meanwhile, Ohio's other major metropolitan dailies -- from Cleveland to Columbus, from Toledo to Dayton -- have been filled with stories all week. Here's a sample from the Akron Beacon Journal, the Columbus Dispatch, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, and the Dayton Daily News., the online version of the Enquirer, linked to some Dann news earlier this week in the Politics Extra political blog. But the material came from other newspapers around the state and was not produced by the Enquirer's staff. Some comments on the blog were critical, and one anonymous commenter noted:

"Isn't it embarrassing to the Enquirer that they have to link to other state newspapers so their readers can know what is happening with the state Attorney General's office? Seriously, I would like an answer to be posted from Enquirer management as to why they are failing on their watchdog role?"

Another wrote: "It appears the Enquirer is attempting to join Dann's cover up of pajamagate, or more accurately, the uncovering of it. Yo poor people in Cincinnati --this paper really keeps you in the dark. But at least you know how the Reds are doing."

And: "What is wrong with the Enquirer? I have to go to the Internet and read other Ohio paper just to know what is going on in this state. I wish someone could sue them for false-advertising for their failure to deliver the news."

Those comments appeared on the newspaper's own political blog -- so it is not censoring critics. But the comments show there is dissatisfaction with the Gannett Co. Inc. daily's extreme lack of news coverage about a major political scandal in Columbus. It may be that the newspaper is so thinly staffed it just doesn't have enough reporters to cover the Dann story. If that is the case, Gannett's budget cutting seems to have pared not just fat, but even the muscle that undergirds any meaty news coverage. Still, budget cuts cannot be entirely behind the Marc Dann news blackout in Ohio's third largest paper, the paper that serves the state's most populous metropolitan area. There are AP wire stories available for publication, along with copy from a story-exchange program set up last month with Ohio's other large dailies. None of that has made it into the Enquirer's pages.


  1. That is pretty shocking.

  2. "Major political scandal" see - it's a scandal just in the allegations. But notice how no one is caring about the women who made the filings.

    Want to scare women away from coming forward?

    Keep covering it like the papers that have.

    Bill - I don't care if it sells papers and gets the male-authored blogs all riled up with lots of photos and suggestions.

    Clearly, no one cares about the women involved and what's alleged been done to them.

    They were the complainants, remember? This is what we do to people who have these kinds of complaints?

    Not buying it, Bill. Not buying it.

  3. Hi Jill --

    You have kind of lost me here. After it became public what those women have alleged, being hit on and worse, then it has to be a "major political scandal." Major, to me, means big or important. Political means that it involves political figures, which Marc Dann certainly is. And scandal is pretty clear. Jill, as to your last comment: Who has done what "to people who have these kind of complaints" -- are they being harmed by somebody? And why do you think "no one cares about the women involved and what's alleged (to have) been done to them." I assume the contrary and suspect that quite a lot of decent people care and have legitimate concern about what may have happened. Indeed, concern over the denigration and disrespect of women is one reason that the rules and laws that try to stop workplace sexual harassment exist in the first place. I think society benefits from eliminating such boorish conduct that targets women, or targets men if a woman is the offender. Sadly, the Enquirer hasn't let many people know about the allegations involving the AG's office.

    Now, the Enquirer has a female publisher. Maybe she has put the kibosh on the story. Perhaps there is concern that the allegations ought not be aired out of respect or fear of harming and humbling the victims. But I don't think so.

  4. Bill, the coverage has focused on what the woman who didn't even file the complaint was wearing. The coverage has focused on Dann's decision-making in who he hires. The coverage has focused on the frat boy nature of what it must be like and is written in such a way to amp that up.

    How does that protect the women's allegations? How does that honor the seriousness of their allegations? How does that portray to the reader what it must be like to be a woman in those offices working in such a condition?

    Unless I've missed them, and maybe I have - I definitely haven't been reading everything this week on this situation, I haven't seen a single article focus on the impact on women working in the AG's office or any Ohio governmental entity as a result of these allegations. Even if only to say, all the other men in charge do just fine, why is it Dann's office with the shenanigans - and that would be fine, but at least it would focus on the hostile environment that allegedly exists for women in Dann's office. Or talk to women who say they have no problems in that office.

    This state has a real crisis in the representation of women in our state legislature and our congressional delegation is only a little better, proportionately speaking.

    I'm not aware of the employment record for the top stateholders' offices (treasurer, auditor, AG, governor and sec'y of state) but it's beyond ironic that the alleged hostile environment is occuring in the offices charged with enforcing laws and prosecuting on behalf of the state of Ohio.

    These are the issues that would honor what the women are going through.

    Not crap about Dann and his condo and the men who frequent it.

    Always, of course, IMO.

    Thanks for asking. Sincerely. :)

  5. Well, in my opinion --

    The possibility that a subordinate who happens to be a younger female was at the condo of the attorney general of Ohio late in the evening in pajamas, or something comfortable, certainly speaks volumes. Especially because this condo is in Columbus, and not the legal domicile of the attorney general of Ohio whose wife and children are at his home in the Youngstown area.

    This whole episode certainly speaks volumes about how women are viewed by the man in charge. Yow can draw your own opinion about that volume . . .

    And the allegation that a young woman's pants may have been unbuttoned by her male superior in the AG's office -- well that is lurid; but it also could tiptoe right up to and perhaps cross the line into criminal conduct. That report seems to say a lot about attitudes toward women, and the way that report is being investigated -- in house by someone, a man, who happens to be on the AG's payroll -- says even more in my opinion.

    Jill, you also seem to be saying that all state offices should have more diversity. That may be a separate issue. This is about how the people who are there are treated.

  6. Bill - yes, I agree with what you've written.

    I'm disappointed but maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I don't mean to say that NO article should have been written or blog post entered about ANY of the other stuff (that's already out there over and over), but for goodness sakes, so much of what is most appalling to ME, as a woman in Ohio and one who follows politics and works to get women into politics, but these concerns of mine about the media's coverage just seems to demonstrate why diversity in who is writing and reporting matters. James Nash seems to be trying out for People magazine for goodness sakes.

    I appreciate your post and your comments - as always. The lack of women's voices in the Ohio blogs and the media is really hitting a fever pitch for me.

    I should check and see if Connie or Regina wrote anything on the Dann thing. Did any female columnist to the best of your knowledge?

  7. Jill: Check out the fabulous coverage of this story by Laura Bischoff at the Dayton Daily News. She is really on top of this story and has written a series of articles on it. This is one:

  8. Thanks, MM. There's no question that it's harder to write a story about the complainants - why would they trust the media? But still - coverage about the KIND of problem, about the role of sexism still in the workplace. Strickland's administration has gone out of its way to secure or say it will secure GLBT rights - but what about the environment for everyone, - women included?

  9. The Enquirer completely dropped the ball on the "Coingate" story as well. They didn't even cover it at all until a few wire stories at the end of the trial.

  10. Enquirer management a couple of years ago coined the phrase, "The Edge," for the suburbs on Greater Cincinnati's perimeter. They want to own the stories popping up in Deerfield Township, Burlington and West Chester (like the new Ikea store!), but anything beyond the Edge is off the face of the Earth.

  11. a friend of ohioApril 16, 2008 4:22 PM

    I see Borgman did a cartoon on it, so we at least know one staffer has his computer plugged in.

  12. The lack of women's voices in the media? Pleeeeaaasssseee, give me (and all of us) a very large break, Jill.

  13. If you have something to say, John, please say it. Don't forget to back it up though.

  14. Jill ==

    Randy Ludlow at the Dispatch had a story today about a state DYS or prison supervisor being suspended or quitting or something today over a sexual harassment incident. Cannot recall the details but somebody passed the story along to me earlier and I promptly misplaced it. I have been going to my son's H.S. baseball games and rasslin' with my acres of grass -- no time to do much else at this time of year. But the incident that Randy wrote about seems to show that sexual harassment is taken quite seriously in the state agencies under the guv's control. As you know, the AG's office is not under Ted's control.

  15. Thanks, Bill. I appreciate you adding that. I've got a collection of open tabs in my browser about similar stuff not in Ohio though and I know what you mean about not having the time. :)

  16. I think I said it. Obviously, there are plenty of women's voices in the media already. The top two editors of the PD and the two most prominent columnists are all members of the sisterhood. That isn't, however, preventing them from running the paper into the ground just now. Secondly, no one really cares (or shouldn't) whether they're men's or women's voices. There are only two kinds of writers--those with something to say and those with little or nothing to say. Those who say it well and those who don't. The gender isn't terribly germane, and shouldn't be used as a crutch.

  17. Thanks for your opinion, John. I don't agree.

  18. FYI data/stats on women in media

  19. Something interesting I hadn't noticed until this weekend.

    The Enquirer finally did run a story about Dann. And WVXU had a short "notice" about it as well. Despite their access to stories by Bill Cohen for the Statehouse News Bureau of Ohio Public Radio in Columbus, WVXU hasn't aired anything about Dann and his associates that I've heard. It seems that once the Enquirer ran something it was okay to talk about but not until then.