Pensacola News Journal Pulls Political Opinion Piece

The article by columnist Mark O’Brien entitled Hayward is a candidate of hype was pulled from the PNJ website late yesterday. It no doubt had something to do with a barrage of hate-mail from Hayward supporters, or the fact that Hayward was the newspaper’s endorsed candidate, or that one of the papers’ major advertisers is a contributor to the Hayward campaign. Or all three.

From memory now, since I didn’t save a copy, O’Brien wrote an opinion piece on Hayward that was less than flattering but all based on substantiated fact. Including his receiving campaign contributions from the Levin Papantonio law firm and their involvement in the BP lawsuit, and subsequent comments made by Hayward on the campaign trail. Not mentioned in that article, is Papantonio’s participation in a class action suit against BP. At any rate, aside from a columnist, O’Brien is also an opinion writer. Much the same as Juan Williams does, or did, double duty as a reporter, columnist, and opinion commentator for NPR and FOX News. O’Brien does both opinion and reporting functions.

The pulling of this piece from their website without comment shows the priorities are less about journalistic integrity than political and financial expediency. It’s no secret that the Levin Papantonio law firm is a big advertiser in the paper. It takes a willing suspension of disbelief to think that that was not part, if not all, of  Executive Editor Richard Schneider’s motivation.

Seems like only a couple days ago that the subject of journalistic ethics and objectivity came up. At issue there was who was paying the bills for the reporter. This brings a new twist to the topic which is, who is paying the bills for the paper?

Former link location: Hayward is a candidate of hype

Update Nov 1, 2010: Correction in today’s PNJ.

In Sunday’s column, Mark O’Brien erroneously stated that mayoral candidate Ashton Hayward III had urged the Pensacola City Council to hire the Levin Papantonio law firm to pursue possible legal action against BP for the April 20 oil spill.

Hayward did not specify any law firm when he urged the City Council to consider legal action.

Apparently everything else in the article was correct.  If you entertain conspiracies of coincidence, Johnson provided Hayward the cover that he needed. Both he and the candidate are allied to the law firm that was hired. Whether by contributions or the Emerald Coastkeepers club, the end result is the same. LP is on the case.

At least the paper did not attempt to deny the genesis of the article, that ‘Hayward is a candidate of hype.’

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