It's been a remarkable week for San Diego media watchers, with KNSD TV taking on Douglas Manchester's U-T San Diego over its editorial coverage of GOP ex–city councilman Carl DeMaio's bid to unseat incumbent Democratic congressman Scott Peters.
On Wednesday, the NBC-owned station reported on charges and substantiating emails produced by ex–DeMaio aide Todd Bosnich that he and another DeMaio staffer “were the actual authors of a December 2013 editorial, which blamed Peters for San Diego's pension crisis and questioned the sincerity of Peters’ support for the veterans’ memorial on Mount Soledad.”
“We had an extremely cozy relationship with the U-T San Diego that always struck me as something that was frankly unethical,” Bosnich is quoted as saying. "There’s nothing new about a partisan newspaper, but the length the UT would go always shocked me."
The allegations sent U-T editor Jeff Light and other executives at the newspaper into full damage control both on Twitter and the web, with Light posting an online statement attributing the editorial to opinion staffer Chris Reed.
"Our writers do their own writing and their own research," says the statement. "Anyone familiar with Chris Reed's formidable intellect and scrupulous character would be struck by how utterly preposterous this claim is.
“There was nothing untoward about the process on the Soledad editorial. The claim that it was authored by DeMaio's team is bogus.”
The U-T forces went on to dispute the provenance of emails produced by Bosnich to back his claim, although according to the KNSD report, "NBC 7 Investigates watched Bosnich pull up the email from his Gmail server, which [a] cyber-security expert said would leave zero doubt about the validity of the contents of the emails."
It's not the first time that U-T editorials have made news for other than the intended reasons.
During the spring primary, an editorial endorsement by the paper of Republican ex-assemblywoman Shirley Horton for the state Board of Equalization bore a disclaimer saying "Editorial and Opinion Editor Bill Osborne, who has a conflict of interest, didn’t participate in this process or in the writing or editing of this editorial."
The paper furnished no details about the nature of the conflict; Manchester gave $6000 to Horton’s campaign, according to state financial filings.
The disclaimer, which also appeared in the print version of the paper, was pulled from the U-T’s website hours after it was mentioned here, but has since reappeared.
Meanwhile, developer Manchester has continued to flood the GOP with money, a state of affairs that has gone notably unreported by the paper.
According to a state disclosure report, Manchester and his Manchester Financial Group, L.P., gave $15,000 to the Republican Party of San Diego County on October 20. On September 25, the publisher gave the local Republicans $25,000.
Those contributions brought the total of Manchester's money for the San Diego party to $82,600 since February 7 of this year.
In addition to backing California Republicans, the developer has also anted up nationally during the current political funding cycle. In August of last year, he and Russian-born second wife Evgeniya gave a total of $7880 to the Reclaim America political action committee of Florida GOP senator Marco Rubio, who is said to be interested in the presidency.
Manchester also gave $15,000 to the Rubio Victory Committee that month; Evgeniya came up with $1920 for Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate.
And as well as the $5200 he contributed to congressional candidate DeMaio in June of last year, federal disclosure records show the U-T owner gave $10,000 to the county GOP's federal committee and $5000 to the Republican National Congressional Committee this May 15.