by John K. Hartman
The Columbus Dispatch cannot give Dave Yost enough sweetheart coverage in his bid for Ohio Attorney General. The newspaper might as well be named deputy campaign manager for the Delaware Republican and current state auditor. This is hardly the way the recently crowned Ohio’s best newspaper should behave.
In fact, it is hard to remember the name of Yost’s Democratic opponent. Let me take a moment to look it up. The Democrat candidate for attorney general is Steve Dettlebach. He gets little coverage in the newspaper and dispatch.com and when he did get covered, the Dispatch headline gave it a negative spin.
In early March, Dettelbach, former U.S. attorney for northern Ohio, was endorsed by former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at a fund-raiser in Cleveland. The Dispatch carried the Associated Press account. I suspect no Dispatch reporters were available because they were tied up covering Yost.
Deep into the third paragraph of the AP story, it was mentioned that Bharara was fired by President Trump when the latter took office in 2017. Yet the Dispatch played up the firing in its headline: “Fired US attorney backs Ohio Dem.” Score one for Yost.
The article included pictures of Bharara and Dettelbach AND Yost, even though the article was about Dettelbach.
A keyword search of dispatch.com showed that between March 11 and March 28, Yost was covered in 21 articles while Dettelbach was covered in only 1.
Why the favoritism? Yost’s campaign aide is none other than Ben Marrison, who until two years ago was the executive editor of the Dispatch. Marrison’s former cronies, many of whom owe their careers to him, appear to be taking care of their old pal just fine. Yost appears to be advised to strike hard as auditor on behalf of pet causes of the Dispatch, such as criticizing the Columbus Public Schools. The botched superintendent search and willful secrecy by the board members has given Yost a publicity opening to drive a truck through. And he has gotten coverage day after day in the Dispatch.
The Dispatch did an expose of Medicaid pharmacy contracts and Yost quickly jumped into the fray, promising to investigate as auditor.
Secretive JobsOhio got caught giving out inaccurate pay information on its employees. Yost jumped on board, even getting the Dispatch to publish his letter to the editor. It is true that early in his tenure as auditor, Yost did battle JobsOhio to release more information about its operations until the Ohio Legislature shut the door. Yost quietly walked away.
After swooning over ECOT for years, Yost has investigated more ardently lately as the Dispatch finally got around to investigating the $100 million drain on the treasury.
Education Super Agency Proposed To Distract From ECOT
Republicans are desperate to distract the public from the ECOT debacle, the underperforming $1 billion charter schools and their failure to support public schools, so they have turned to legislative theatrics in an election year.
The proposed superagency to oversee higher, K-12 and vocational education is unlikely to do any better than the current system run by Republicans who love the charter schools and love to cut taxes while they try to take away a woman’s right to choose and arm teachers.
It makes you want to learn the name of the Democrat running for attorney general and a whole bunch of names of Democrats running for state office this year.
Dispatch’s New Look Drab, Crowded, Oh So Conversational
In late March, the Dispatch eliminated its free-standing business section on weekdays and dropped the color-coding of section pages. It added little color boxes to highlight items inside the sections. It dropped the small over lines that were used to identify topics of articles. Readers ignore over lines, studies have shown.
It is a shame that a big city like Columbus does not have a free-standing business section every day, but the lack of ads in the section doomed it. The sports section may be next to lose its identity because, despite its stellar coverage, it has few ads besides the daily one for sex performance.
The most significant change was dropping the Sunday Insight section in favor of one called The Conversation. Insight suggested wisdom and knowledge would be conveyed. The Conversation suggests blab-blab and pabulum.
Alan Miller keeps his column on page one and you will not be surprised, after reading above, that the executive editor praised Dave Yost.
Reader letters are featured on an inside page, but the headlines are so small, a magnifying glass is required. The headline on Miller’s column is much larger and includes his picture.
Ohio Political Ranker Returns. Vol. 10
Chances of winning the primary:
Democrat Governor: Cordray 40%, Schiavoni 35%, Kucinich 25%, O’Neill 0%.
Republican Governor: DeWine 80%, Taylor 20%.
- Democratic candidates for governor had a terrific debate in Toledo March 7. It was covered live by WTOL-TV in Toledo. It was ignored by Columbus TV. For shame.
- Libraries are handing out pamphlets telling us “How To Spot Fake News.”
- If you are regularly visiting a library, you already know.
- An educated citizenry. Remember that phrase. It would save us.
- I did it. Give me the prize. An entire column and no mention of you know who.
This post originally appeared on ColumbusMediaInsider. Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman, ColumbusMediaInsider@gmail.com
(ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2018, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved)