A picture is worth well over 1000 words votes

Sometimes, the Seattle Times makes it too easy to criticize their endorsements. Really, Frank, what were you thinking??

  • Jim Kastama for Secretary of State?
  • Steve Hobbs in WA-01? They even suggest writing him in for the special election in the old WA-01.
  • Dual endorsements for the US Senate (Maria and Whatshisface from Spokane), WA-02 (Larsen and some random Republican), and WA-06 (Derek Kilmer and the richie-rich 1%er from Weyerhauser)?

Even when they get one right, they often get something wrong. Consider state Supreme Court Position 8. In that particular race, with only two candidates on the ballot, the primary will decide who earns a full term on the Court. Like everyone who actually examines the candidates, the Times is endorsing the appointed incumbent, Justice Steven Gonzalez. His opponent is a little-known “strict construction” type, whose sole attribute is that he bears an Anglo-Saxon name. It’s well known, of course, that odd results may ensue in low-turnout, low-information elections. It’s also well known that in such races higher ballot position is a distinct advantage (the other guy’s name is above Justice Gonzalez’s on the ballot), and unfortunately it’s also known that in a state with Washington’s demographics a non-“ethnic” surname is a big edge in low-turnout, low-information races.

That’s why I find it rather disingenuous of the Seattle Times to have chosen the photo of Justice Gonzalez displayed here when they published their endorsement on July 5. Mr. Gonzalez certainly looks, well, ethnic in this image.

But that’s not at all the way he looks these days. For that matter, it’s not what he has looked like for quite a long time. For example, video of the news story broadcast on KING-5 when Justice Gonzalez was sworn in is shown below. That video was shot on January 9, 2012, fully six months ago:

As further evidence, I offer several additional recent photos. The first one shown below is from his page on the Supreme Court website. Presumably, it’s his current official portrait. Also displayed here is a shot from his campaign’s photo page. Now, I could have chosen one of the three pictures showing him with a beard, but I instead picked one of the 48 clean-shaven photos. Incidentally, all of the with-beard photos on the campaign site show his facial hair in a much softer, much gentler, less “bandito” light than the one attached to the Times endorsement. (Yes, that’s Edgar Martinez with him.)

How difficult would it have been for the Seattle Times to locate a current photograph of the candidate they were endorsing for a vital spot on the state’s highest court? Is it presumptuous of me to ask whether anyone of the editorial board of the Times noticed that Justice Gonzalez was clean-shaven when they interviewed him in preparation for making their endorsement decision? Yet they still chose to accompany their endorsement of the Justice with a picture that could easily play into the worst preconceptions held by voters in the low-turnout, low-information primary election for Supreme Court Position 8.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    You’re assuming the Blethen Times still has paid newsroom staff. Ryan Blethen’s kids are handling those chores now. You can gather news with volunteers, but you can’t publish if you don’t pay
    the ink vendor, so guess what gets cut when the budget is tight?

  2. 3

    proud leftist spews:

    The Seattle Times is Washington’s equivalent of FoxnNews. It is a simple rightwing rag.

  3. 4

    Geov spews:

    The worst part of that is that Gonzalez’ opponent is not only a strict constitutionalist (quote from the voters’ pamphlet: “The US Constitution…should not be a living, breathing document,” which I guess means that only propertied white men should vote and blacks should go back to the plantation. Sheesh.), but is spectacularly unqualified. Every single one of the other eight Washington Supreme Court justices, from across the political spectrum, has endorsed Gonzalez.

    That’s unimaginable if his opponent was an even remotely credible candidate. With those stakes, in a low-turnout election, this sort of game-playing by the Times is beyond reckless. It’s unforgivable.

  4. 6

    proud leftist spews:

    Hey, Sheryl McCloud is someone to look at in the crowded race for Tom Chambers’ seat. Sanders, Ladenberg, Hillyer, McCloud. There are good candidates there. I think she’s the best.

  5. 7

    FricknFrack spews:

    Tonight was so fun! My Sis & Niece & Me (niece brought her dogs up from Longview WA to spend time w/her Mom). Niece was voting for the first time in her life, hauled her ballot with her. Both Sis/Niece moved from AZ, yay! We had a BLAST doing this!

    Sis told her that when ‘I’ had my first opportunity at at 21yo to vote was when SHE at age 18yr was able to vote so we voted first time @ the same time, albeit different states. So this was a historic moment tonite now that 3 of us were sitting & deciding our votes.

    So, I pulled out ALL the stuff I can find to research & printed out for each of us. Like I told both, hang onto this stuff. Esp WRT the Judges, there were so many positions to chose and they will likely show up come next Nov if they don’t get over 50%.

    As far as ‘looks’ go, I don’t particularly care. More interested in what the Judge does.

    According to FuseWA blog:

    “Justice Steven Gonzalez is an experienced, highly respected judge and a passionate advocate for access to justice for all people. He was appointed to the Washington Supreme Court in 2012, after serving for 10 years as a King County Superior Court judge. Before becoming a judge, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney, a Prosecutor for the City of Seattle, and a lawyer in private practice. He has been found either Exceptionally Well Qualified or Well Qualified by every bar association or organization that has rated him. His opponent, Bruce Danielson, is a lawyer with virtually no courtroom experience. Danielson specializes in debt collections and is running from the fringes of the far right.

    In a quirk of Washington election law, this race will be decided in the August primary. In judicial elections, a candidate is elected outright if he or she wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, and in this race there are only two candidates. Gonzalez is vastly more qualified to be a Supreme Court judge, and his election depends on the primary. ”

    He has 3 votes coming from my household. And face it, the Seattle Times is simply a Republican Ragsheet, err fishwrapper, so we read it but don’t go along with what they promote. Just a fact.

  6. 9

    ArtFart spews:

    Who reads the Times anymore? They’ve been tossing it on our front porch gratis for the last couple of years, even though we keep asking them not to.

  7. 10

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 8: I’ve heard that from lots of people. Maybe we should start charging them for littering/dumping trash on private property?

    I won’t subscribe to a newspaper for that reason – once they get their foot in the door, it’s very hard to get them out. The last time I was solicited, they offered me six months worth of free papers, which I could cancel at the end of the free month “trial”. I told them “no way”.

    The Times might even be including some of those unpaid deliveries in their “paid circulation” numbers, upon which advertising rates are based. I’m sure if pressed, they would say it’s just something that was “overlooked”, or try to blame it on the carrier. But padding circulation numbers on any significant scale would be a very serious issue with it’s ad customers and their agencies.

  8. 11

    milo (pronounced mee-lo) spews:

    It’s a good thing they didn’t choose the photo of Gonzalez with shades on and the t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase El Vato Loco.

    People might have gotten the wrong impression.

  9. 12

    Richard Pope spews:

    What’s interesting with Bruce Danielson is his performance in the 2010 election for Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney. Danielson ran without party preference against four term Democratic incumbent Russ Hauge. Every single Republican elected official in Kitsap County endorsed Hauge (not to mention all the Democrats as well, of course). Hauge is obviously very well-known in Kitsap County. Danielson didn’t do much for his campaign at all. But Danielson still ended up with 48% of the vote in the November general election.

    Translate this to statewide election, and Danielson is a MAJOR threat. Steven Gonzalez isn’t that well known statewide, certainly nothing anywhere near Hauge in Kitsap County. And Gonzalez does not have the advantage of being able to run under the label of a popular political party (putting both candidates on equal footing there, unlike Hauge’s party ID advantage two years ago). Add to this the lack of primary voter pamphlets in many counties, and whatever quirks people names may have — remember Charles Johnson beat a very respected incumbent named Callow in the 1990 primary with virtually no campaigning — and this makes the primary a crapshoot at best.

  10. 13

    Zotz sez: Free Thinkers are Satan's Slaves! spews:

    @12: I live close by and pay attention to Kitsap politics. Danielson is a well known right wing bigot, yet as you relate he came close to beating Hauge.

    However, that has more to do with Hauge’s dogged pursuit of a scofflaw shooting range in Central Kitsap (I actually support him on this) and a number of other aggressive enforcement issues — including especially pot.

    Hauge was fortunate to have Danielson as an opponent and lucky to be re-elected. Most any competent attorney who could fog a mirror would have beaten him.

  11. 14

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 12: Which is a perfect example of why I hate judicial elections, as a general rule. The candidates can’t really talk about the issues without violating the judicial cannons of ethics. Most voters don’t know who the state Supreme Court justices are, much less those on lower courts. As long as a candidate doesn’t get in the news for committing some faux pax like getting arrested for a DUI, it’s rarely more than a flip of the coin or a vauge “likeability based upon name” decision for the average voter.

  12. 15

    Serial conservative spews:

    I’ll just point out that image 51 of 51 in his campaign site, among others there, has him looking ‘bandito’, to use your term (I wouldn’t have thought of it).

    If his current campaign website has a photo of him with the ‘bandito’ cut, why do you have a problem if the Times uses a photo of him looking the same way?

    If the Times had run with a photo of a clean-shaven guy named Gonzalez standing next to a guy named Martinez, I would have been thinking ethnic much more than I would have if there’s just a milquetoast picture of a guy with a not-yet-grown-in goatee, by himself.

    Sometimes a dog whistle………… isn’t.

    Although what should I expect from a liberal world in which George Zimmerman was breathlessly described as a white guy?

  13. 16

    Very Severe Conservative spews:

    Serial Conservative, you are so right. Having the Times look at 50+ pics from the web site and choosing the one that looks the most “bandito” is just coincidence. It’s his fault, he should not have put it on his website, (like if she didn’t want to be harassed, she shouldn’t be wearing those clothes). He should have know someone could have used it in a demeaning way. It’s just an honest error like the fair and balanced Fox News mislabeling republicans as democrats, like Mark Sandford or Mark Foley. It’s totally unfair for the liberals to call them on that. That’s no more dog whistle than calling the president “The One”.