More Messages: Endorse This

In a November 25 Rocky Mountain News column, media writer Jason Salzman wrote about the process by which the Denver dailies arrive at their list of political endorsements. However, the piece's most intriguing bit of information pertained to a specific plug -- the Denver Post's 2004 decision to back George W. Bush for reelection to the presidency over Democrat John Kerry. "It wasn't reported at the time," Salzman wrote, "but [Post owner/publisher Dean] Singleton did, in fact, reverse the decision of the Post's editorial board, which had unanimously backed John Kerry, Singleton told me last week."

Turns out, though, that the "wasn't reported at the time" part of this sentence is open to debate. "Choice Cut," the October 28 edition of the Message, dealt in detail with the brouhaha that arose over the Post's endorsement of Bush, which prompted complaints from at least 700 readers. Singleton (pictured) was interviewed for the piece, but he refused to confirm that he had big-footed the board. In a statement that was apparently less definitive than it sounded at the time, he declared, "I'm not ever going to talk about how the editorial board makes any editorial decisions." However, he noted that the board had been "split" over the endorsement, and made it clear that he supported Bush, to whose campaign he had contributed in 2003. He also revealed that he didn't bother to participate in a conference call Kerry made to the board, choosing instead to hang out on the sidelines of a NFL matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders. (The game was far from a nail-biter -- the Broncos won 31-3 -- but Singleton apparently couldn't tear himself away.) In addition, the Message cited evidence that Singleton had mandated a Bush endorsement at the Salt Lake Tribune, another paper at which he's listed as the publisher.

Did this information constitute reporting about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the 2004 endorsement? If not, it comes pretty close. Still, credit Salzman for finally getting Singleton to confirm what everyone else already knew, and for his suggestion that the dailies make the endorsement process more transparent -- particularly when the boss is the one determining what his underlings believe. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts