Long story short. Ted Diadiun writes typically vapid navel gazing apologia for PD bias, hilariously quoting Bill Mason toady, metro editor Chris Quinn (which Anastasia immediately notices). People bring up Connie Schultz in comments. Diadiun claims he and many others at the PD have long been “troubled by the obvious conflict” regarding Connie’s marriage to Sherrod Brown.
Connie, rather publicly, loses it. As is her wont.
My role as a Plain Dealer columnist has fueled a sub-thread of comments here, and so I will respond.
Ted Diadiun wrote, in referring to my job as a columnist while married to a U.S. senator, “A lot of us are troubled by the obvious conflict.”
Troubled? This suggests I am a constant source of anguish for colleagues, which is news to me. Except for Ted, no other editor or colleague has suggested – to me, anyway – that I should not be writing a column because I’m married to a member of Congress.
To be clear on the timeline of my career at The Plain Dealer: I started as a reporter in 1993; I became a columnist in the fall of 2002, before I had even met Sherrod Brown, let alone dated him. We were married by the time the Pulitzer was announced in 2005. My marriage was disclosed on the Pulitzer entry form. No one at The Plain Dealer suggested we refuse the prize because of my marriage. For the first three years of my marriage, there also was no tagline about Sherrod at the end of my columns, even after he moved from the House of Representatives to the Senate. Susan Goldberg insisted on the tagline shortly after she became editor in 2007. Around the same time, I was instructed to stop referring to my husband in personal columns, as that risked “humanizing” an elected official.
I have a lot of respect for Susan Goldberg, who left The Plain Dealer earlier this month, but I have always objected to adding the tagline about my marriage to my column. Clearly, it is a battle I lose on a regular basis. At first, it was added only when I wrote about politics; it now often appears on columns about race, women’s issues and workers’ rights – all of which I cared about, and wrote about, long before I knew Sherrod. No other publication in the country that runs my syndicated columns, essays or book reviews adds a tagline about my marriage, including Parade, Columbia Journalism Review and The Washington Post. Every editor who works with me knows that I am married to Sherrod, as I always make it clear. I couldn’t be more transparent about my marriage, as my second book, “and His Lovely Wife,” was about Sherrod’s 2006 race for the U.S. Senate.
My marriage, and my politics, have long been fodder for detractors, as is evident in the comment section on many of my columns, and in the discussion thread under Ted’s column today. That is old news. What stunned me was Ted’s public declaration that “a lot of us are troubled” about my role as a columnist in light of my marriage. The “us” suggests he means others in the newsroom. Perhaps that was an exaggeration on Ted’s part, reflecting his admitted disagreement with my politics. Perhaps I am clueless.
Here’s what I do know about our newsroom: For 17 years I have worked with an incredibly talented group of journalists. Many of them are cherished friends. Lucky, lucky me. And I am grateful to The Plain Dealer for its continued support as I take a short break from my column to finish a series scheduled to run in December about the long-term impact of Agent Orange here, and in Vietnam.
The best part is that Diadiun quotes Chris Quinn on bias, who has a documented history of turning the PD into Bill Mason’s puppet, most spectacularly by getting the PD to campaign for Issue 6 as if democracy itself depended on Bill Mason’s job being written into the new county charter in perpetuity.