Ethical breach? Yep!

A candidate for a Texas Senate seat has confirmed for me a suspicion I had hoped would prove false. Dang! I hate to rat out someone who works at a newspaper that paid me nicely for nearly 18 years.

I reached out to a candidate who had lost the Republican primary to Kevin Sparks, who won the GOP nomination for Texas Senate District 31. I was curious about something I read on the eve of the March 1 primary in the Amarillo Globe-News: It was a lengthy op-ed column from the guy who won the primary; he extolled his virtues as a candidate for the Senate seat. It was, to put it bluntly, nothing more than a political advertisement for which he should have paid money. He didn’t. The newspaper granted him the space for free.

I asked the fellow who finished second in that primary — Tim Reid of Amarillo — whether the newspaper had given him the space to sing his own political virtues. His answer: “Not at all. The GN didn’t even run my announcement press release.”

Let me blunt. The Globe-News committed what I consider to be a serious ethical sin. It occurred in two parts. One was that the paper reportedly offered only candidate — the man it endorsed for the primary — a chance to bloviate on why voters should choose him over any other candidate in the race. The second sin concerns the timing of the op-ed column: It ran on the day before the election, giving no one a chance to rebut, refute or rebuke whatever the candidate had to say about himself.

I also reached out to the editor of the opinion pages of the Globe-News, inquiring about whether any of this is true. He hasn’t responded. Therefore, I feel no hesitation about speaking my mind about how I believe the readers of a once-good newspaper have been let down by the publication.

Fairness dictated that the newspaper would offer all the candidates the same opportunity to speak out. It is unfair in the extreme that a publication such as the Globe-News would fall far short in meeting that responsibility. What’s more, the notion of fairness also requires the newspaper to grant anyone the chance to challenge an assertion that a candidate makes about himself, or about his opponents. Sparks didn’t say a word in his essay about another candidate, so that’s not an issue.

However, what is an issue is the obvious bias displayed by the publisher of the Globe-News in favor of one candidate for public office. That is unacceptable.