By Jim Bleyer
There were two notable developments this week that strained the trust of even the most gullible reader.
First, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham, running third and steadily plummeting in the primary polls, claimed she is the only candidate from her party capable of winning the general election. This sack of balderdash was dutifully reported by some of the state’s media and pay-for-play blogs.
Graham, whose two years of public service makes her the least qualified of the soon-to-be seven candidates running for governor, had a Congressional term that was remarkable for her support of key Republican positions. Even Chris King, who is running fourth in the poll, has executive experience as a successful entrepreneur and is a true progressive.
With nine percent of poll respondents favoring Graham, she is running behind former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. The daughter of former governor and senator Bob Graham initially led the field but as voters became familiar with her policy positions and voting record, Graham has slid badly.
The skid hasn’t been alleviated by the Tampa Bay Times who has incessantly promoted Graham under the guise of “news” stories. Bob Graham sits on the board of the Poynter Foundation, parent of the Times.
It became apparent six months ago that the Times would support Graham and Jack Latvala on the Republican side for governor. Since then, Latvala resigned from the Florida Senate amid several charges of sexual harassment.
So the total percentage of the electorate supporting the original Times gubernatorial team is nine percent.
Speaking of the Times, the paper is still bucking for a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with a story that the Trump-inspired tariffs will add more than $3 million annually to its newsprint bill. Under the byline of Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, the article begs readers to write their Congressmen asking for repeal of the tariffs.
Laughable in light of the paper accepting up to a $15 million cash infusion fom Trump supporters and right wingers. The irony is not lost on the mostly liberal readership—or what’s left of it.
The added cost may be accurate but it isn’t affecting an already squeezed enterprise that is mired in debt, reportedly more than $80 million. In addition to accepting cash for favorable coverage, the Times, using its remaining real estate as collateral, has received funds from a lender of last resort.
Tampa Bay Beat predicted two years ago the Times’ financial difficulties willl force them to eliminate the physical edition by the end of 2020 and go entirely digital. Newsprint tariffs have zilch to do with the Times economic plight and are acting as a fig leaf for the rationale of converting to an all-digital product.
Tash announced last year the paper wanted “to connect with Trump voters,” a strategy obviously not appreciated locally or inside the Beltway.