Chris Quinn, vice president for content at the Northeast Ohio Media Group… What’s up?

Nov.
1
There is something going on at the news organization formerly known as the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the world should know about.

It’s not hard to describe but it is hard to explain, especially because the guy who made the call has put up a stone wall since. That would be Chris Quinn, vice president for content at the Northeast Ohio Media Group, the digital arm of what used to be the Plain Dealer newsroom, and the operators of Cleveland.com (“covering northeast Ohio.”)

Quinn is the one who:

* A week before the election took down a newsworthy video that his own organization made, which shows Ohio Governor John Kasich behaving disdainfully toward his opponent during an endorsement interview— for example, by refusing to acknowledge Ed FitzGerald’s existence and acting like a question FitzGerald’s asked never happened until it was repeated by a Plain Dealer person. (An audio clip was substituted. Some of the video can be seen here.)

* Threatened with a lawsuit a six-person political blog, Plunderbund, that posted a clip from the interview. (UPDATE: Plunderbund reposted this clip.)

* Refused to answer any questions about his actions, or explain his reasoning when contacted by Jim Romenesko, the media reporter whom everyone in the business knows, by Cleveland scene, the local weekly, by the Sandusky Register, a small daily nearby, and by Crain’s, a local business publication, all of whom received no reply.

* Let stand as the campaign wound down the credibility-crushing embarrassment of removing a clip that reflected poorly on the candidate the Plain Dealer had endorsed for governor.

* Decreed that the Plain Dealer’s ombudsman and reader’s representative would also answer no questions about the take down, which involves video of the only face-to-face debate between the two candidates during the campaign. (I deduce this because Ted Diadiun told me: “I’m sorry, but you’re going to need to ask Chris Quinn for the answers.” I also emailed editorial page editor Elizabeth Sullivan and got no reply, as did Romenesko, as did a local newspaper. So Quinn’s the man and he ain’t talking.)

Steve Benen at the Rachel Maddow blog summarizes why this matters:

Keep in mind, Kasich refused to participate in any debates this year, so this editorial-board meeting was literally the only opportunity for Ohio voters to see their gubernatorial candidates talk about their ideas. It made the discussion, hosted by the Plain Dealer’s editors, arguably one of the more important political events in Ohio this campaign season.

And initially, the newspaper did publish the video of the gathering online. But then the paper pulled the clip, posted an audio-only version, and threatened legal action against an Ohio-based news site that offered readers a YouTube version of the discussion.

Tim Cushing at techdirt chimes in:

Why would it remove its own video? If PlunderBund’s account of the video’s content is accurate, John Kasich’s behavior during this session bordered on the insolently childish. Watching a politicial candidate exude boredom and disdain is hundreds of times more effective (and potentially damaging) than hearing it. An audio version of this “interview” is a defanged version.

Let me summarize it. The leading news organization in the state sponsors the only event of the campaign when the two major candidates for governor meet face-to-face to discuss the issues. The candidate it endorses behaves contemptuously toward his opponent and tries not to acknowledge his existence. These events are captured on video. The video is posted at the news organization’s own site, then abruptly removed without explanation. Lawsuits are threatened if others post clips. Calls to explain these actions are ignored. National media attention is given to the missing video. The readers representative is prevented from commenting. The editor in charge of the debate goes silent. The election is three days away.

Or think of it this way. Why is one of Ohio’s leading news organizations willing to sue to keep its own newsworthy video from voters, and how can it afford to let that question go unanswered during the final week of the campaign?

Nice job, Chris Quinn, vice president for content at the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Google page rank for PressThink.org: 7. Google page rank for http://www.neohiomediagroup.com: 6.

I like my chances. (Search.)

After Matter: Notes, Reactions & Links

Nov. 5, morning after the election. The mystery is more or less solved in this column by readers rep Ted Diadiun. Here’s why Chris Quinn took down the interview video of John Kasich, Ed FitzGerald and Anita Rios.

The gist: No one told the candidates they would be video taped. “When the governor’s staff saw the video on cleveland.com later that day, they were chagrined, and contacted NEOMG to ask what happened.” Quinn then decided it was unfair to post the video. He wouldn’t explain any of that because:

“I thought that if I stated my reasons, the obvious next step would be people going to the candidates and asking them if they had any objection to putting the video back up,” Quinn said. “That would mean my error could put people into an uncomfortable situation. That’s not fair. I figured that if someone had to be uncomfortable because of my error, it should be me, so I stayed quiet and took the beating that ensued.”

And the ombudsman didn’t write about it because Quinn wouldn’t explain. “I would look ridiculous trying to read Quinn’s mind, and would look ridiculous writing about something else.” So Diadiun stayed silent too.

Some things worth pointing out about this explanation:

* Notice how the stoic, the man who took the heat and suffered for the good of… well, for fairness, is Chris Quinn.

* That would be fairness to a powerful governor, John Kasich, a possible presidential candidate in 2016. Fairness to readers and voters could wait. Until after the election, after their decision. Fairness to Plain Dealer and NEOMG journalists tainted by this: not a factor.

* Which is more persuasive to you? That a big league politician like Kasich is due deference because he truly didn’t expect the videotape to be posted (although the camera was staring him in the face…) Or, the Kasich campaign freaked when it saw what the video showed and Quinn backed down? Pick one.

* If Chris Quinn is a man who can take the heat for the protection of principle, which is how he is painting this, then what about the principle that voters deserve to see their governor in action during the only face-to-face meeting of candidates? Quinn could have stood his ground and taken the heat from the Kasich camp. Instead, he chose different ground – less information for voters, fair warning to candidates – and took the heat from readers, local journalists and national media critics over that. Why did he make this choice of heats? We don’t know why. “I knew this would get some buzz but I didn’t expect it to get this much,” Quinn said.

* Choosing silence over transparency injures trust, but it also begets more silence, which hurts trust even more. Thus, Quinn’s stonewalling also injured the reputation of the ombudsman, who also failed in the clutch.

* As Jill Miller Zimon, a former candidate for public office, said on her Facebook page: “Every endorsement interview starts with the editorial board telling us that we’re being recorded. Did they omit mentioning that during this unique, rare and newsworthy gathering?”

Nov. 5, afternoon. Reading the hundreds of comments at Connie Schultz’s Facebook page convinces you: readers get it, they care, they are angry. I think the problem with NEOMG’s explanation is this: Neither Chris Quinn nor Ted Diadiun is saying: As a news organization serving the public, our fundamental compact is with the readers, not the candidates, even though we strive always to be fair to candidates and others who figure in the news. NEOMG lost track of a very basic fact about community journalism. So in my view, this is what Chris Quinn should have said:

“…We made a mistake. We lost sight of that fundamental compact, and then we compounded the error by refusing to explain ourselves. Today I am ordering that the video be re-posted and I apologize to our readers for taking it down in the first place. It was an error in judgment because it gambled with something fundamental — your trust. The good terms we hope to maintain with candidates and governors are not fundamental to what we’re about. Your confidence in us as a news provder is. I hope the NEOMG can learn from this because I certainly have.”

Nov. 7. Chris Quinn appeared on WCPN this morning and faced questions from the host, other journalists and listeners. Jump to 12:45 and listen:

Here is some of what he said:

* They had not mentioned video in negotiations with the candidates for fear that one — obviously Governor Kasich — would drop out.

* After the video was posted the Kasich campaign called Quinn and asked, “What are you going to do if others use this for political purposes?” (In other words: they saw the video, and freaked about the possibility of it going viral or becoming an attack ad in 2016. The Kasich camp didn’t have to ask for it to be taken down. “What are you going to do…?” served the same end. And it worked.)

* The host, Rick Jackson, asked about my point above: that Quinn was more concerned about being fair to the Governor than being fair to readers and voters. To this he said the issue was “how you collect your information.” Q. But aren’t you supposed to put readers first? A. “You put your ethics first.”

* So why the week of silence about the reasons for the take down? Quinn said he was hugely concerned that if he publicly explained the screw-up in not notifying the campaigns about video taping, unspecified “people” would ask the candidates if they had any objection to releasing the video— and that would be unfair. (Because Kasich would have to say NO, even though he felt YES.) “It puts the incumbent in a difficult position,” Quinn said. He didn’t explain himself when asked “because the consequences of that decision would have added to the injury.”

* The WCPN host said: well, now you’ve lost the respect of the community. Talk about consequences! Quinn: “I don’t agree we’ve lost that respect.” Here, he launched a classic maneuver more common to politicians. Facing widespread criticism, he framed it as the views of an overheated minority. The name given to this tiny, screeching group: the bloggers. Quinn said they were “shrill,” partisan, plus “humorless” and “over-reacting.” Quinn: “I don’t think the bloggers are the audience we are appealing to.” The incident had been blown “way out of proportion.”

* Quinn denied that the case of the missing video had done any serious harm to the reputation of his news organization. He portrayed himself as a stoic, willing to take the heat. And also slightly bemused that “people” had made such a big deal out of this.

* His fellow panelists were mildly skeptical, the host more doubtful and the callers mostly expressed disbelief, except one. Turned out she knew Quinn before as a source and PR person, and press aide to a former mayor.

UPDATES, NOV. 1-4.

In the comments, I have a hypothesis about what happened. It’s just speculation, probably not worth much.

Monday, 11:15 am. I was just interviewed by WCPN about this story and learned one thing. A Kasich campaign spokesman told WCPN that the Governor did not expect to be video taped. Here’s the story WCPN produced, with some of my comments.

I originally called Plunderbund a “tiny” site but it has six bloggers writing for it, so I changed it.

Plunderbund is not backing down.

Cleveland Scene, a local weekly, covers the story and posts the video. This is now officially another instance of the Streisand effect.

The Sandusky Register takes aim at the ombudsman’s performance in this messs. “Diadiun has some explaining to do.”

In the comments a reporter with state house credentials tells of being ruthlessly cut off from access to Kasich, which is relevant only because some threat like that might be behind Chris Quinn’s panicked decision to remove the video clip and stone wall from then on.

Probably Cleveland journalism’s biggest name:


Jill Miller Zimon alerted me to this story. At her blog she writes:

Whether we like it or not, NEOMG is the only news outlet of its size covering Northeast Ohio. We have numerous other, excellent sources – WCPN, State Impact Ohio, Ohio Statehouse News Bureau, Crain’s Cleveland Business, Cleveland Scene. And nearly all of them have indicated their interest in learning why NEOMG removed the video. So it’s not just us – it’s numerous other relevant players in the NE Ohio media ecosystem.

We want to trust and believe. Just as no one wakes up asking to be poor, no one wakes up hoping that their news provider will fail to be transparent or less than editorially honest with us.

WCPN, the NPR affiliate in Cleveland, does a weekly radio show on which Chris Quinn is a regular guest. The upcoming election was the first topic on October 31, and several low-level campaign controversies were mentioned, including this one involving the Governor’s race, but host Rick Jackson did not ask Quinn about the missing video, although it had been an issue for three days by then.

Of anyone in the local or national media, Jackson had the best chance to get an answer from Quinn but he chose not to. Maybe there were other, more important issues. But that’s not the end of it. WCPN can still get answers. It has reporters. They know about the issue. It obviously had a working relationship with Chris Quinn. I would be shocked if they don’t have his cell phone number. WCP could do the news ecosystem a favor by asking its frequent on-air guest why the video was taken down. They’re in the best position to enforce some basic accountability here. Will they?


This must be some secret:

WAKR, a local radio station out of Akron, editorializes about the mystery of the vanished video. “The editorial decision to post, then remove, content such as this video within the space of days without explanation does require an explanation. If not as a courtesy to readers, then at least as a best practice from a company living by the value of transparent public discourse.”

Columbia Journalism Review: “It should be a straightforward thing for a news organization—especially one that prides itself on engagement!—to offer an explanation.”

John Kasich: The GOP’s Hobbled 2016 Dark Horse. Profile in the Daily Beast.

Here is the email exchange I had with Ted Diadiun, the readers representative for the Plain Dealer and NEOMG.

From: Jay Rosen
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2014 11:17 AM
To: Ted Diadiun
Subject: The Plain Dealer looks really bad here

Hi, Ted. Questions for you in your capacity as a reader’s rep.

I’d like to write about this.

What is going on with un-publishing a newsworthy video, and refusing to comment on why?

You’re getting national attention in the political sphere and in journalism:

My questions are:

1. Why did the company take down the video?
2. Who made the decision?
3. What was the logic of refusing to explain as national attention came to the Plain Dealer and NEOMG for the decision?

Many thanks,

JR

Jay,

Thanks for your e-mail.

I’m sorry, but you’re going to need to ask Chris Quinn for the answers to questions 1 and 3.

Chris is the vice president for content at the Northeast Ohio Media Group, and the one who has made the decisions on this matter.

Ted Diadiun

For context in understanding this reply, the normal task of an ombudsman or readers representative is to field questions from readers and then navigate the newsroom or company bureaucracy to get answers. Ted Diadiun certainly understands the job the way. He’s done it before. Here’s a good example:

…Editors at the Northeast Ohio Media Group agreed that showing the video might help identify the rapist, and were in the process of posting it on cleveland.com, but then quickly pulled it back. Chris Quinn, NEOMG vice president for content, had seen in the blurry image what looked like the attacker pulling up his pants, and was horrified to think that he might be linking to a video of the actual rape.

“You don’t see her, you don’t see the actual act, or anything other than him being down and standing back up and pulling up his pants,” said Quinn. “But no matter how hazy it is, if you really have a video of a rape, that’s something we’ve never had or dealt with before. Even though you can’t really see it, you know what’s happening, you know there’s a woman on the ground there.”

See what I mean? There are questions about journalistic practice. The readers rep finds the person in the company who has responsibility and gets answers. Posting video? Let’s ask Chris Quinn. That’s the normal situation. But it didn’t happen here. Ted Diadiun didn’t go and get answers. He said I will have to go to Quinn myself and get answers. That’s not how the readers rep functions. Diadiun normally writes a Sunday column. No column this week. Diadiun declined to write about an issue that has been covered extensively in the local ecosystem.

I’ve contacted the Kasich campaign to see if they know anything about the take down. I’ve also called Quinn, of course.

UPDATE, Nov. 4. Election Day. Tensions in the Cleveland newsroom are bursting into public view. At Jim Romenesko’s site, Plain Dealer Newspaper Guild unit chair Wendy McManamon criticizes reader representative Ted Diadiun for not getting answers about the video’s removal, when that is what he is supposed to do as readers rep. Diadiun works for both the Plain Dealer and the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Incredibly (to me, at least) Diadiun says in reply, “I have not written about this or given out quotes because I felt I was in an untenable position and could do nothing to help the situation.” Really, why is that? Sunlight disinfects. Isn’t that a core belief in newsrooms? Then he adds — mysteriously! — “Stay tuned however, if you continue to be interested in this issue.”

What’s he saying? I wasn’t able to do my job before, but soon I will be? Like… after the election, maybe? New York to Cleveland: Adding to the mystery, making things more opaque when it is within your power to explain them, is pretty much the opposite of journalism.

Chris Quinn, September, 2014: “Once we publish something, we’ve got to have a real good reason to remove it.”

50 Comments

  1. Wendy McManamon says:

    The NEOMG is not ‘formerly The Plain Dealer.” The Plain Dealer is The Plain Dealer. Chris Quinn is not in charge of The Plain Dealer.
    Thank you.
    Wendy McManamon
    Unit Chair for The Plain Dealer
    The Newspaper Guild

    • Jay Rosen says:

      We get it. The Northeast Ohio Media Group is non-union.

      But the Northeast Ohio Media Group runs Cleveland.com and that is where the Plain Dealer has its online presence:

      http://www.cleveland.com/plaindealer/

      From the “About” page at cleveland.com:

      “cleveland.com features content like real-time news, sports, entertainment, lifestyles, politics and business news from Ohio’s largest newspaper, The Plain Dealer…”

      So in the degree that there is no world wide web and digital journalism never happened, yes, “The Plain Dealer is The Plain Dealer.”

      And since we’re getting picky, Wendy, you wrote: The NEOMG is not ‘formerly The Plain Dealer.”

      I didn’t say it was. I said. “There is something going on at the news organization formerly known as the Cleveland Plain Dealer.” And there is.

      • Wendy McManamon says:

        You’re still wrong, Jay. They’re trying to trick you and readers and sources. The website is where Plain Dealer stories are posted on line. But they do not run the Plain Dealer.

      • Jay Rosen says:

        Who said they did? We’ve actually spent a lot of time in this comment thread on the complicated relationship and no one said NEOMG “runs the Plain Dealer.” No one said Chris Quinn is in charge of the Plain Dealer, either.

        But if you think this doesn’t hurt the Plain Dealer, whose editorial board conducted the interview, you are wrong.

        • Melodie Smith says:

          Jay, your tone is dismissive, disrespectful, and completely misplaced. Wendy is not nitpicking or avoiding the “bigger” issue. Hers IS the bigger issue! Plain Dealer workers have ZERO say in the actions, public remarks, or lack thereof of NEOMG executives. Yes, the editorial board description makes it sound like an equal partnership of the PD and NEOMG. But I point out two facts: 1) Only one PD employee is on the editorial board, Kevin O’Brien, who as a PD columnist is proudly conservative; and 2) Advance’s digital-first policy begun in 2013 will only continue to expand — and with it, Chris Quinn and NEOMG’s power.

          We aren’t stupid, Jay. We know that to the public, “The Plain Dealer” is still the flagship company and NEOMG is just another, fancier name for it. That is definitely the perception. But it is not the reality.

          Wendy and I are copy editors. I have no say in and am told very little about the intentions of my superiors at the PD, or those of Chris Quinn and his NEOMG team. I haven’t a clue why the Kasich video was removed, or who exactly ordered it. I won’t speculate.

          Nor do I intend to argue here with you or anyone else. I know it’s a lose-lose for me to even post this. I’m just sick and tired of me and my PD colleagues being judged/ridiculed for NEOMG’s actions when we have absolutely nothing to do with that company.

          • Melodie Smith says:

            Correction to my original post: Upon rereading your responses, Jay, I was wrong to call your tone disrespectful. That was my own defensiveness.

            Clarification: I was NOT defending removal of the Kasich video, or downplaying the questions surrounding the removal. I was just trying to emphasize the PD reporters and production workers like me have no say in editorial board decisions, or those of NEOMG.

          • Jay Rosen says:

            Thanks, Melodie. The whole point of this post, from the title, to the closing paragraph, to all the points made in between, is to lay responsibility at the feet of Chris Quinn, vice president of NEOMG.

            I don’t know how I could be clearer — or blunter — about that. And I nowhere suggest that Plain Dealer employees are responsible.

    • Swarley says:

      Typical Guild behavior– nattering nabobs niggling about nonsense.

      Here’s the reality: The readers, who are what matters, do not about the distinctions between Cleveland.com, “America’s Worst Newspaper” ™ and Northeast Ohio Scab Group.

      Chris Quinn is in charge of what people see on the newspaper’s Internet Site. That is what the newspaper is. End of story.

      I recognize it’s a big deal to the 12 people who haven’t yet been wiped out by Advance’s annual pogroms, but yelling and screaming like there is something fundamentally wrong with Jay’s story just makes you look like Eric Idle in the Monty Python “Abandon Ship” sketch.

      If you cared about journalism, you’d resign your jobs, not hang on and pretend like you work for a newspaper rather than an advertising supplement.

      And kudos to Jay for pointing out that the Newspaper’s Mouthpiece isn’t to refer questions about censorship at THE PLAIN DEALER to someone else.

  2. John Cole says:

    Like a true hack, Wendy McManamon’s real problem is with a minor error in Jay’s post describing the rot at her organization.

    If only she was as concerned about the sleazy behavior of her “Unit.” I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that she will not take any time to discuss the substance of the issues here. Just pick at a minor error in the post and then move along.

    #ourfailedmediaexperiment

    • Chris M says:

      You are right John that Wendy McManamon may be correct in the minor issue. She won’t address the point of the article. She reminds me of my 12 yr old when she argues about side issues to avoid the point I’m making to her behavior. The Plain Dealer has lost any of what little credibility they had left when they endorsed Kasich. I can’t believe that they have no control over the video being posted or not.

  3. Greg Marx says:

    @John Cole,

    It’s a weird situation, but as to Wendy’s point, NEOMG and The Plain Dealer really are different things.

    Background here:

    http://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/newspaper_guild_files_nlrb_charge_against_plain_dealer.php?page=all

    And here:

    http://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/plain_dealer_courts_beats_move.php?page=all

    • Jay Rosen says:

      Thanks for those links, Greg.

      The question is whether for purposes of this episode NEOMG and the Plain Dealer are separate organizations. For all the confusing legalities, corporate machinations and union politics involved, the video was from an endorsement interview with the editorial board— the editorial board of “the news organization formerly known as the Cleveland Plain Dealer,” as I put it. Here’s the endorsement:

      http://goo.gl/cY5Hde

      That page says:

      “Editorials express the view of the editorial board of The Plain Dealer and Northeast Ohio Media Group — the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff.”

      So as you can see, for purposes of the take down episode, they are one organization with different parts. And Greg’s point, that they “really are different things” does not make a lot of sense in this context.

      • Greg Marx says:

        Hi Jay,

        I liked your post and don’t mean to quibble with it. My own brief comment was probably imprecise, and while the PD and NEOMG do have distinct newsrooms, you’re correct about how the editorial board is described.

        But I thought I understood why Wendy McManamon was trying to draw a distinction. And I thought John Cole’s reply was intemperate, and most likely uninformed about the org structure and history there. I was trying to provide some context for her comments.

      • Jay Rosen says:

        All good.

        They are different newsrooms, so plenty of room for confusion. That’s why the links you shared are good context.

  4. The corporate machinations to divide up the properties are not easy for many of us to keep straight. However, the guild writers indeed are not overseen by NEOMG which is Mr. Quinn’s employer. His operation overseers Cleveland.com. I am not an insider able to explain all the nuances but I have great respect for many of the PD side reporters and a lot has been going related to shifts in where writers reside between the PD and NEOMG. I believe it’s being and has been covered by outlets that cover media. This issue about the video take down is with Mr Quinn and the NEOMG, not any of the reporters as far as I’m concerned (as one of the people keeping a focus on the take down and the NEOMG refusal to say why). Thanks.

    • Wendy McManamon says:

      Thank you, Jill.

      • Wendy McManamon says:

        And I agree: The takedown looks tainted. Yet neither newsroom controls what the editorial board decides. However, all but one on the editorial board is a Plain Dealer employee. It’s but one example of a flawed new world.

        • Wendy McManamon says:

          Just to correct myself for the record, and then you big boys can talk about the big issues: There is only one Plain Dealer writer on the editorial board; the rest are NEOMG.

  5. Roldo Bartimole says:

    The real point is that the Plain Dealer – whatever it wants to call itself – endorsed John Kasich for re-election. It’s coverage of FitzGerald has been poor to insulting for a major newspaper.

    This is true despite the fact that
    FitzGerald, as County Executive, has done just about everything the Pee Dee, as I like to call it, backed editorially. He has been submissive to the PD/Corporate agenda to the point that Cuyahoga County will be in serious financial trouble in the coming years.

    You can’t understand this newspaper without understanding the community. Take a look at today’s Sunday Pee Dee and you’ll find that it devotes 30 pages – with little ads – to sports coverage. Not including Page One that usually has a major sports piece. I noted that the previous three Sundays the paper had 68 pages of sports with very minor inches of ads. The piece can be seen here: http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/23209

    The newspaper ignores the deep problems of poverty, especially among children, for Boosterism and ignores huge public expenditures for sports and downtown subsidies. Ralph Nader in a recent letter to Kasich cited a piece I did on just how much money has been poured into subsidies to developers and sports owners.It can be found here: http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/20912

  6. Steve Cunningham says:

    The Video shows the real John Kasich’s Arrogance! CPD or NEOMG are trying to Erase this because of how they support Kasich. I only wish this Video was taken eight weeks ago!

  7. Tiffanie says:

    I also sent Mr Quinn an email and he has NOT responded.

  8. debbie says:

    Gee. I don’t care whether it is the Plain Dealer or not. Just repost the video. Let Ohio see the kind of person John Kasich is, and let it spread like wildfire prior to the election. The truth needs to be revealed. I was one who actually saw a large portion of this before it was taken down. Kasich was ignoring Fitz and lounging in his chair. He was disrespectful, unprofessional, condescending, and appeared bored. He dodges questions and twitches. Even if people aren’t enamoured with Fitz, they need to realize what a charlatan Kasich is. He is not “Little Johnny” as he’d like to present himself.

  9. Betty Barlow says:

    Have lost any respect I may have had for this governor and since he probably will get reelected I am faced with what happens when an election is bought & paid for.

    • dweb says:

      The consequences of “an election that is bought and paid for,” is that the PD clearly knows how this is going to come out on election day and clearly is doing everything it can to avoid antagonizing a governor who is going to get re-elected. That fact is fine with the PD on its face, and the last thing they want to be doing is leaving that video in place. My strong guess is that the Gov. or members of his staff saw the thing online, realized how godawful it made him look and put the arm on the PD to take it down by trying to claim “we didn’t know it was being videotaped.

      Was the camera hidden? Did ANY member of the Gov’s press relations team set any ground rules or ask, “Is this being taped?”

      If they did while the camera was running, no evidence of it.

      If they didn’t check ahead of time that is their fault.

      Kasich has been running on cruise control ever since his opponent ran into the PR troubles a couple of months ago over being in a car late at night with someone not his wife. I’m surprised he even consented to this interview.

  10. Jeanie Horine says:

    I did see the video and was not flattering the Governor at all.
    He was acting like a petulant child. Would not answer Mr. Fitzgerald. Would only take questions from the interviewer. Look like the hissy fit thrown in Florida over a fan.
    I understand why this was taken down but it it’s not right. Is it legal? Surely not ethical!!!
    This type of Candidate’s behavior seems to be prevalent amoung the Republicans.

    You need to pull up your big girl and boy panties. Start acting like mature intelligent people if you can

  11. A friend of mine said it best about this whole thing: “A shameless act of breathtaking partisanship.”

  12. MARY MILLER says:

    It is a blessing to read i am not alone. Now how do we get the word out just three days left and we must not leave out any Republican. I want to know why all of the Democratic party is not telling whats on the line if the Republicans take over and what the democratic party have accomplished. Thanks Debbie and Jeanie.

  13. Philip Brett says:

    The odd thing is that the PD blindly supports a man who represents everything contrary to most of readers of the PD and most of the residents of Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga County is a blue collar, racially diverse and, for the most part, open minded and tolerant group of people. Kasich’s anti-labor, anti-union, pro-1% and anti-public school and anti local government positions have made life harder and more expensive for nearly all of Cuyahoga County residents. The attitude of the PD and its many of its columnists has been smug and condescending. The paper has found the line between journalistic integrity and partisan pandering and taken one giant leap for the Republican Party. By embracing the agenda of the far right, the paper has rendered itself irrelevant.

  14. Josh says:

    Commenters can quibble over the organizational structure of NEOMG and the Plain Dealer, or the endorsement of Kasich, or FitzGerald’s record, but none of that is really relevant. This is very simple. It boils down to:

    A leading news outlet has erred on the side of not releasing information pertaining to a major election. Or rather (and even worse): It released the information and then revoked it, and went after someone else for putting it out there.

    You can’t even say it’s shitty journalism, because it’s not journalism at all. This is failure to adhere to its most basic mission, and anyone associated with NEOMG should be embarrassed and appalled. (And if your response is “The video isn’t that significant,” then the answer to that is: “Then release it and let the public decide.”)

  15. PJ says:

    Ted Diadiun is a dreadful public editor. He completely mishandled the response to horrifying coverage of the murder of a transgender person in Cleveland last year.

    That he would be little more than a sock puppet for whoever/whatever is behind the NEOMG or the Plain Dealer this year is little surprise. I am at an utter and complete loss as to why he holds the position that he does.

    There are MANY great writers/editors who care about the issues in NE OH and want to tell well researched, transparent stories, but the people at the helm of the NEOMG/PD right now aren’t among those voices.

    • Swarley says:

      Informational note here.

      Ted Diadiun isn’t an editor. He’s a retired former editor (most of his time on the sports desk, but a little while on metro) who writes columns explaining why American’s Worst Newspaper ™ is smarter than all of its readers combined so he can supplement his pension.

      He isn’t guaranteed space in the paper (or its parent company, Cleveland.com) if they don’t like what he has to say. I call him the “Newspaper’s Mouthpiece” because that’s what he is– there is no independence at all.

  16. Ed Esposito says:

    Ask any reader who’s had to figure out what exactly an NEOMG is and they’ll cut through the marketing and tell you it’s the Plain Dealer. I would imagine most visitors to Cleveland.com would be shocked to find out it’s just a vehicle for stories from the Plain Dealer and has no hand in news management. Please.

    There may be a host of reasons why the video is gone, but unfortunately those who have every reason to expect adult treatment by the 800-pound media gorilla in Northeast Ohio won’t have the benefit of that information. To have this end at Chris Quinn’s desk is also worth discussing; the PD has a publisher. Advance has senior management. While it is worth noting the audio still exists and the churlish behavior by Kasich was reported, the simple question remains: why won’t an established media outlet that trumpets it’s credibility as part of the community tell why this happened?

    In the world where we argue media institutions bring credibility this is a most incredible performance.

  17. Gordon Cobbledick says:

    There will no longer be a Plain Dealer, in any form, after the union contract expires in a couple year. The name will be retired. The print newspaper will be called “Cleveland.com” and the union journalists will all be locked out/laid off. That’s the end game.

  18. Jay Rosen says:

    Okay, now that Chris Quinn has told WCPN “no comment” when they asked about the removed video, I have a hypothesis. This is just speculation. I have no idea if it’s true. Probably it’s not because there are facts missing. It would explain the data we do have, though. People who know far more about the players would have to say how plausible it is.

    1. In this theory of the case, the key fact is that Kasich had refused to debate Ed FitzGerald for the entire campaign. What if he was determined to finish the campaign without letting FitzGerald debate him? But what if he also wanted the Plain Dealer and NEOMG endorsement? He decides he can do both, and there our mystery begins.

    2. Kasich goes to the “endorsement interview” behind an understanding he has that this is not in any sense a debate. Maybe he was told this explicitly, or his people thought they had secured this understanding, or his campaign was interpreting ambiguous language a certain way. Whatever: he believes that the Editorial Board agrees with his understanding. This is not a debate. It’s “consecutive interviews with the Board” or some such.

    3. The event begins and it’s clear that a challenger trailing badly who was never able to get the incumbent to debate him is going to take advantage of this one opportunity he has and engage John Kasich. (As almost any trailing candidate would.) So FitzGerald turns and addresses Kasich directly. This in the Governor’s mind is a violation of the terms under which he agreed to participate.

    4. Kasich expects the Plain Dealer and NEOMG people to step in and remind FitzGerald that he’s not allowed to pull that move. It’s against the agreement they had with Kasich, he thinks. But they don’t step in.

    5. Kasich, in his mind, feels tricked and abused. So he grows sullen and flippant. The Editorial Board is not going to keep to their agreement, he reasons, but he is going to stick to his terms: He will not debate FitzGerald. He will not debate anyone. He is here for an interview. He understood that he would have to sit through the answers others give to the interviewers’ questions, if he wants the endorsement. (Which he believes he will get.) But he will not play along in any other way.

    6. His body language and demeanor express his contempt for what he believes is double dealing by the Editorial Board. So when FitzGerald asks him a direct question, he says nothing. When a journalist says, “well what about that, Governor?” Kasich says: oh… was there a question? He makes the journalist repeat the question because this restores the ground rules that Kasich believes he came under.

    7. The interviews end. The journalists write up what happened, taking note of Kasich’s dismissive behavior. The video is posted, and it shows vividly how contemptuous he was.

    8. At some point someone from the Kasich campaign, possibly the candidate himself, goes ballistic and Chris Quinn is on the receiving end. There are reminders about supposed ground rules, or a promise someone made, or an email someone sent with language that could be interpreted a certain way. Someone is afraid the video could be dynamite, one of those freak things that goes viral and alters a campaign that was all but concluded. The chances of that are probably slim but with a week left to go no one is willing to chance it. So they go medieval on Chris Quinn. Heavy pressure to take down the video. He submits.

    9. When people inside the building ask why he refuses to answer and just orders them to do it. When people from the journalism world ask why he just doesn’t call them back. When the local press asks he stiffs them. When the public radio station where he is a frequent guest contacts him he cannot refuse to reply but he politely says no comment.

    10. Why does he choose the stone wall? Because he knows what it will look like: that he caved under pressure from the Kasich campaign and unpublished his own organization’s work. In his mind, it’s journalistically okay because the audio is there. But he knows that some will (again, in his mind) misinterpret a series of unfortunate events, and he cannot allow that. So he decides to tough it out.

    And that’s where we are now.

    As I said, this is only speculation. Probably incorrect in a dozen ways. But with the stone wall holding for now, what else do we have? Now having absorbed this hypothesis, watch.

    UPDATE: Monday, 11:15 am. I was just interviewed by WCPN about this story and learned one thing. A Kasich campaign spokesman told WCPN that the Governor did not expect to be video taped. So throw that into the mix.

    • Jay,

      I know you keep to the journalism lens here, but for context, I want to point out these three very particular examples where Gov. Kasich has used very similar kinds of statements to wiggle out of or walk away from policy situations that complicate things for him.

      1. Just within the past two weeks, he resisted accepting that Medicaid expansion is part of the ACA and would not happen without the ACA. He was roundly panned for trying to thread the needle that way.

      2. We have had legislative action or policy formation that he has claimed he didn’t know anything about but yet was obvious those working around him and/or already out in the public:

      – On the issue of drilling in state parks: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/02/18/Reps-call-for-investigation-into-ODNR-fracking-plan.html

      – On the issue of the state legislature moving to repeal Common Core, Gov. Kasich went on the record to say that he didn’t know that any such effort existed, all while the newspapers around the state were reporting on the many hours of hearings being held on that very thing. Seriously. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/09/09/governor-no-common-core-repeal-bill-expected.html

      Those are just the ones I recall off the top of my head. So when he says that he didn’t expect video, well, he often has used language to say he didn’t expect something, or he doesn’t think something is something else, but truly, it is more mannerism than a reality, from what even the press here has reported that contradicts his assertions of not knowing, or not expecting.

      Diversion concluded. Thanks.

    • Swarley says:

      Jay, here’s a radical hypothesis: The politician lied.

      Kasich’s staff was told the interview would be recorded. All candidates were. That, ironically, was by Chris Quinn’s order.

      One of the goals of the NEOMG is to post as much video as possible, so young people can watch it on their phones, rather than have to read the thrice-weekly newsletter that NEOMG controls.

      Everything the NEOMG does now is to attempt to attract milennials. I’ve been told that both by NEOMG and their thralls in the Guild.

      (To go off-topic for 26 words, Kasich is looking seriously at running for president in 2016 and the last thing he wants is video than can be used in an attack ad.)

      When this was posted, and his strategists saw it, they freaked and told Quinn to get it off the site if the paper ever wanted to have a relationship with the governor– and maybe president.

      Bear in mind that this rag has fired or demoted writers because they wrote things that offended the Browns owner, the GM of a local TV station and the conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. It turned an endorsement into a no endorsement once because the publisher vetoed it. censored

      I’m sure Roldo can chime in with about 20 more examples, since he is the Dean of Cleveland Journalism.

      Jill Zimon probably has a few stories to tell, since she was part of a “bipartisan blogger panel” that blew up the first time the bloggers wanted to write something that Cleveland.com didn’t like.

      NEOMG is, I seriously believe, the worst newspaper in America. Not only is it the only paper to drive off a Pulitzer Prize winner (which usually guarantees a lifetime job) but it has driven off at least four Pulitzer winners by censoring or blocking their coverage.

      It regularly gets scooped by other outlets on stories about Cleveland-based topics, because it only wants to publish stories that make the power elite happy, or push what it considers upbeat news.

      You can tell who here is from Cleveland and who is not, because nobody from the region is surprised by any of this.

  19. Cheyrl schwind says:

    1st I would like to say I agree with you Jay on this Theory.
    But since it is only a very good reasonably guess, I say the Horseshoe casino or The Hardrock casino should take bets on it and turn into the joke that clearly Chris Quinn thinks that the public should receive.

  20. One useful point (which I’m sure has been made up thread but which bears repeating) is that Quinn’s effort to suppress the video has not been successful. It is still available here
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe9F8jb3m3A

    Blunderbund is resisting

  21. Poor Thing says:

    The same meddling with content that is seen re: this Kasich snafu is happening with NEOMG’s coverage of certain inner-ring cities in the Cleveland area.

    After months of “sky is falling” pieces about petty crimes (with NEOMG reporters themselves baiting trolls in the comments areas — with Quinn’s encouragement), a piece published by a reporter this past Friday even goes so far as to justify — using an interview with Quinn himself — overtly and aggressively negative coverage of one suburb east of Cleveland. It is even noted by the reporter that Quinn lives in this suburb (so we are all to assume that that exonerates NEOMG from any charge of bias).

    Fact is, Quinn has introduced this “iterative” style of reporting to Cleveland and the results have been horrific to the real journalists at the PD who work hard to maintain standards — while their “colleagues” at NEOMG (Quinn included) continue to bring journalistic standards to a new low by baiting clicks, baiting trolls, and even participating in the comments sections themselves.

    This removal of the video and threat to a blog is just another nail in Quinn’s journalistic coffin. Then again, he is not a journalist.

    This failed business approach is being done not only in Cleveland but nationwide by the parent company of PD/NEOMG. The final results will be catastrophic for local coverage in Cleveland and elsewhere.

    There is more to explore here. But Quinn will just keep his head low until after the election…and then he can return to slamming suburbs and inciting trolls.

  22. Rich says:

    The PD in whatever corporate guise has a long hisroiry of inconsistency and serving as a “bipartisan” (often GOP leaning paper). Cleveland’s populist, sometimes demogogic (look up Sam Shepherd) afternoon ppaer always leaned Democratic, but is long gone.

    The PD has occasionally produced good journalism but has rarely stuck its neck out in important ways. Still, this is pretty awful. Kasich is governor largely because he beat an incumbent with a bad hand (weak economy) and a poor campaign and now a Dem challenger whose campaign fell apart out of the gate. Kasich isn’t very popular and they could always make their endorsement weaker–much like WaPo did with its tepid endorsement of Obama (which largely ommited what an obvious disaster Romney would be).

  23. PHB says:

    I find the quibbling over what is and isn’t the plain dealer to be profoundly ridiculous. Newsprint is dead, get over it. The only part of the paper that matters is the online part and that uses the plain dealer name.

    If you rent your name to a jackass to publish your online version then they speak for you and you own their actions in the only venue that matters, end of story.

  24. I don’t normally join conversations like this, but this year, given the topic, the way Gov. Kasich and his communication team have performed over the last four years, including this incident of hiding a video that shows just how immature, disrespectful and chameleon like the governor is, I decided to inform this crowd that after covering John Kasich for almost four years as an independent reporter, I’ve been blacklisted by Team Kasich for months now from attending their media events. John Kasich is someone I met when I went to work in the Ohio Senate in 1977 for Michael Schwarzwalder, a Democrat, and Kasich worked for Buzz Lukens, a Republican. I was a credentialed member of OLCA, the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association, the group created by the legislature way back when to filter out legitimate news groups from illegitimate one, dating back to 1898 when reporters of the day could hobnob with members on the Senate or House floors, from 2003-2006. I covered Kasich during his campaign for governor and after he was elected in 2010. I had been covering Ohio news at Examiner.com since Sept. 2009, and wrote about 1,600, many of which included Ksich in them.

    Trouble started brewing for me immediately after I posted a comment at Pinterest, back in May, about the Kasich Administration pilfering funds from where ever they could to amass an amount that could then be returned in the form of income tax cuts. I wrote, “Funny. Ohio’s governor said the state shouldn’t take the Medicaid expansion deal because the feds couldn’t be trusted to pay their promised share into the future. Making seniors pay more property tax because the state decided to stop paying its share to fund tax cuts for people who don’t need them is called ‘transitioning to job creation.’ Really?” Nichols, who joined the cult of Kasich following his long relationship with Deborah Pryce, a former central Ohio congressman who rose to a leadership position in the House under former speaker Denny Hastert of Illinois, wrote back via his private Yahoo account. I was doomed. “if you were drunk and popped off, I can respect that, and you can apologize to me to fix this. But if you want to stand by this, you will never talk to the governor again. Rob Nichols, Press Secretary, Office of Governor John Kasich.” Not stopping there, Nichols bore in more, saying, “Retract this or I will never talk to you again.”

    I love a good exchange, so I stood my ground and made a tough choice, don’t be intimidated. I responded to Rob Nichols: “Rob: In light of your threat to ban me from ever talking to John [and I guess you and everybody else in down there], based on a comment I made that you haven’t corrected me on and that others I have since spoken with, who read the Pin and moved on without resorting to the kind of retaliatory reaction you did, my response to your threat is to say this: Do what you’re going to do. It makes no difference to me. I have other resources. It makes no difference to me if you shut the door on me or not. It only reflects poorly on you and John. What it will show is how terribly paranoid and thin-skinned the governor’s office is. And you think he’s presidential timbre? Really? Are you going to issue the same kind of threat to national media who will inevitably arrive at the same conclusion and who won’t be afraid to write about it? If a little reporter like me, who knows John better than any of you or any reporter you sanction can image, can spook you, you’re in for a very bumpy and ultimately unsuccessful ride to higher office. What you need to know about me is I get a little fired up when confronted by bullies and egotists and anyone else who’s afraid of their shadow and tries to intimidate me by telling me I can’t do something. I’m too old for your threat to be of any real concern to me but still young enough to stand my ground. For the record: Unless you care to explain to me why the Pin is wrong, in which case I would retract it since I’m not a purveyor of falsehoods like others I know, I will not retract it. It’s your call, not mine. You decide who you dare let ask John a question he may not like [and there will lots more of those questions coming]. Do what you’re going to do. I thought you guys were above being petty, but I guess I was wrong. Your attitude and that of your boss speaks volumes, to be sure. But whatever you do, it will be remembered and won’t go unnoticed. By the way, good luck with that run for the White House. Have a great day. JMS.”

    So SWARLEY’s notion that Tea Kasich threatened to cut off access [i.e., a relationship with the governor] is very real, since that’s what the threat to me was. And they did it.

  25. KuriousKat says:

    For God’s sake enough already!
    Its a lot better not to see the video..and let the imagination run loose as to what an a$$hat he must have been along with the audio portion. In fact..you can come up with your own video and put it to the audio.put Homer Simpson in it..Don’t newspapers have cartoon sections? C’mon guys..get creative!
    .lol..think radio..think.think .Internet and mass effect..!
    All this posturing is trifling while DOJ is cranking out 100 blank warrants against one journalist..

    I’m outta here..
    Peace

  26. Garry Kanter says:

    Ted Diadiun has not been a regular, full time employee of the PD for some time.
    His weekly columns are *always* some indecipherable defense of the PD’s antics.

  27. Poor Thing says:

    Chris Quinn posted a reply to a comment on today’s ombudsman’s article on cleveland.com. In it he tries to defend Ted Diadiun, writing

    “Look, criticizing me for what I did is one thing, but going after Ted is simply not fair. I made the decisions at the heart of this. Plenty of people have taken issue with those decisions with varying degrees of civility and vehemence, but Ted did nothing to draw anyone’s ire. He wanted to talk about the issue last week, and I wouldn’t answer his questions. I changed my mind this week and decided Ted, because of the position he holds and because it is important to him, should have the first crack at making the explanations. That’s what he has done. Ted’s a stand-up guy and always has been. He deserves no criticism.”

    Yet, Quinn left Diadiun to the wolves for a week and clearly had Diadiun hold off on posting the explanation (read: justification, rationalization) until the day *after* the election. (Remember when Diadiun wrote, “Stay tuned” the day before the election regarding anyone receiving an explanation? That means his column was already either written or in process before election day…)

    Yes, this election was decided months ago, but the points here are journalistic and editorial integrity and management intrusion on editorial and journalistic content. Integrity is sorely lacking right now at NEOMG.

  28. PJ says:

    But Diadiun has more to answer for over the years than just this. He is terribly off base or out of touch on nearly everything he writes about.

    He may not be the Big Bad Wolf in this story, perhaps, but he is a corporate PR person in journalist’s clothing.

    Questioning him is hardly “going after” him. Neither of these two men are newbie journalists. Why the thin skin all of a sudden?

  29. Tom says:

    Nice piece, Jay!

    Just a note, it’s Steve Benen. Not Bennen.