On Dec. 19, 2004, the publisher of The Sun and top editors met privately with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and members of his staff. At that meeting, the governor's staff distributed a document with 23 items detailing complaints about news stories, editorials, headlines and columns published in The Sun between October 2001 and December 2004.
Because the meeting was off the record, The Sun's editors felt bound not to talk or write publicly about the document. Now, an April 7 letter from Jervis S. Finney, the Ehrlich administration's chief counsel, asking for a prompt public response to the list, has removed that constraint, and the anticipated release of the list by the administration makes this assessment timely.
Paul Moore, reviewed all the items on the list and interviewed people involved. Here is the Ehrlich administration's document, unaltered in any detail, annotated with findings from Moore's investigation.
Partial List of Inaccuracies, Omissions, Errors, and Distortions by The (Baltimore) Sun's Reporters, Headline Writers and Editorial Writers Regarding the Ehrlich-Steele Administration.
November 3, 2002
The Sun editorial board, in its endorsement of Lt. Governor Townsend, writes, "Mr. Ehrlich's running mate, state GOP chairman Michael S. Steele, brings little to the team but the color of his skin."
GRIEVANCE: This is remarkably insulting to the State's first African-American statewide official, dismissing his qualifications and injecting race where it was entirely inappropriate. In addition, the editorial calls Ehrlich "calculated" and "crass" for choosing a Johns Hopkins educated international lawyer as his running mate, thereby accusing the Governor of the same narrow-mindedness displayed by The Sun. Governor Ehrlich and Lt. Governor Steele have a longstanding call for an apology, which they still have not received.
Lt. Governor Steele was President of his class at Johns Hopkins University, went to Seminary school, graduated from Georgetown Law School, ran a successful corporate and international law practice, and was a member of the US Naval Academy Board of Visitors. He does not deserve to be dismissed by The Sun.
Findings: The choice of words could have been more delicate, but The Sun editorial board does not apologize for stating its view that Mr. Steele was far less qualified for the job than his opponent and that the primary political attribute he brought to the ticket was racial diversity.
January 16, 2003
In a column about Governor Ehrlich's State of the State address, Columnist Michael Olesker quoted Delegate John Arnick as saying, "[Ehrlich] tells everybody I was his mentor. He learns to work things out. He's too liberal for Republicans and too conservative for the Democrats -- which is probably the way to be. In Washington, it's 'My party, right or wrong.' It's not that polarized here."
GRIEVANCE: Delegate Arnick has told the Governor's Press Office that this was not his statement.
Findings: The Sun stands by its reporting. Delegate Arnick did not make a complaint to The Sun at the time columnist Olesker's piece was published in January 2003. The Baltimore County Democrat said in late 2004 "that he did not recall saying things that way." Olesker has a clear and detailed recollection of the conversation with Delegate Arnick.
February 27, 2003
Columnist Michael Olesker wrote, 'We have no plans whatsoever for [Clarence] Mitchell,' Ehrlich spokesman Paul Schurick said Tuesday after the announcement that Mitchell would not retain his job as director of the newly-created office of urban development. 'The favor has been paid. You try to help the people that help you. We did that. End of story. We do not feel the obligation to get him another job'
'Hoskins told the governor and lieutenant governor that he intended to ask for Mitchell's resignation. And they back him up.'
'The job was not created exclusively to help (Mitchell). It was created because we thought it was a legitimate function, and he was the right candidate for it.'"
GRIEVANCE: Mr. Schurick categorically and completely denies ever saying these words.
Findings: The Sun stands by its reporting. Mr. Schurick acknowledged that he did have a conversation with Mr. Olesker. The columnist says he quoted Mr. Schurick accurately and has notes to support his statement.
June 16, 2003
In a story entitled, "Governor creates jobs for allies," a "Sun Staff Writer" reports that the Governor is rewarding legislative allies and others with jobs.
Text of Ehrlich complaints against The Sun
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