A rare front-page endorsement is stirring debate in San Diego.
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At issue is an editorial piece for Carl DeMaio for San Diego mayor, an endorsement by the editorial board of the U-T San Diego, which is a media partner of 10News.
"I think it reflects the kind of partisan divide that's broken our political system today," said Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, an independent candidate for San Diego mayor.
Fletcher added, "I think what you saw was an allegiance to a party and that's fine
It's their paper. They are entitled to any position they want. All I can do is what I believe is right for San Diego."
In the meantime, the U-T stands behind their bold endorsement. Editor Jeff Light told 10News, "It was designed to draw attention to important issues and to get people talking." And it did.
"This is more than just saying, we endorse Carl DeMaio," said journalism professor Dean Nelson, Ph.D. "This is 'we are making it much more flagrant than just an editorial page endorsement.'"
Nelson directs the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University and said he was surprised to see the front page endorsement followed by a headline Monday stating, "Fletcher: Principled or Panderer."
When 10News asked Nelson if he has ever seen anything like this, he said, "Not quite like this
this struck me as over the top."
U-T San Diego was recently purchased by prominent hotel developer Doug Manchester, who is no stranger to politics.
Manchester was a major donor to ban same sex marriage but his action prompted boycotts against his landmark hotels.
In an audio clip on You Tube posted by a Fletcher supporter, U-T San Diego editor Light makes a comment about the editorial board being in a tough position as they have Republican backing and lot of Republican tradition.
"We as an editorial board do not want to see Bob Filner make it through to the general election because the environment around the general election is going to be far more favorable, I think, to Filner," Light says in the audio clip.
Many papers have a long tradition of political endorsements on the editorial page. Nelson said the extent to which the U-T has gone could raise questions.
"To do it in this fashion, I think casts a little bit of a cloud over the political coverage on everyday news stories," Nelson said.
Although Light oversees the newsroom, he says the editorial board is a separate entity and does not dictate how they cover daily news stories.
"Our journalists are dedicated to an unbiased pursuit of the facts, and that remains their sole focus, regardless of the spin that might come from any political campaign," said Light.
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