Media Watch: The O Buries the Real Story


Over the weekend, the Oregonian ran what they surely believed was a hard-hitting expose on union spending on political campaigns. What the story boiled down to was this: Labor unions spend money on political campaigns, just like other groups, and in Oregon they win elections because they’re more in touch with what a majority of Oregonians want.

But buried in the story, almost as an aside, is this little nugget: “Without the union support, the Democrats would have had a hard time staying financially competitive with Republicans, who slightly outraised them thanks to strong support from business interests.”

Catch that? Republicans outspent Democrats, and they did it thanks to big campaign contributions from the corporate lobby. And yet, they still lost seats in the legislature, giving Democrats a strong majority.

So where’s the big front page story about campaign spending by business interests? Why isn’t the headline, “Despite outspending everyone else, Oregon’s business lobby rebuffed by voters”?

The bottom line is that the progressive movement in Oregon is strong because it reflects the values and priorities of a majority of Oregonians. The corporate lobby and their preferred political party continue to lose for one simple reason: Their agenda and the Oregonian’s editorial positions (tax cuts for big corporations and the rich, cutting environmental regulations, budget cuts that lead to big class sizes, etc.) are completely at odds with voters.

Oregon’s progressive community—including labor unions, educators, environmentalists, women’s health advocates, the GLBT community, small businesses, and many others—is strong because we work together toward a common goal: Protecting the priorities that make Oregon great. That’s the real story.


Well put Scott--I absolutely caught that nugget as well. And I appreciated OurOregon's official response to an Oregonian request: "Thanks, but no thanks. We're sure you'll spin whatever we say in the worst possible light." (Paraphrasing here)

That said, I appreciated that Jeff Mapes did the piece, rather than their usual PERS attack dog. While the Oregonian lives by "burying the (real) story," I thought Mapes was close to balanced and fairly informative.

Michael Morrow, Portland Community College, AFT.

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