Not been much noise has been heard from or about Washington State Rep. Chris Reykdal (D-Tukwila) since the State Democratic apparatus made an unpublished op-ed by the lawmaker their page A1 story Wednesday morning. He should count the relative silence as a blessing.
By coming one step shy of metaphorically placing a horse’s head in the bed of the state newspaper industry, Reykdal could have easily aggravated a grudge between print news and Democrats in Olympia that was ignited by State Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) only a few months ago.
As of Thursday evening, only Publicola.com had covered Reykdal’s “open letter” at all. But the Seattle left-wing blog’s post on the subject offered a cushy landing for the legislator by ignoring the largest element in Reykdal’s invective, the implied threat of fiscal retribution for coverage too rough for Reykdal’s standards.
Reykdal’s 700-plus word piece took the McClatchy group – a publisher of several newspapers in Washington State – to task for its publication of members of the Legislature who were (and were not) answering the call to take voluntary 3% pay cuts. Reykdal suggested in his piece that if papers like The Olympian – a McClatchy publication – were so interested in reporting about what elected officials were doing, maybe the newspaper industry should lose its tax breaks.
He submitted the op-ed to The Olympian – a McClatchy-operated paper – and it was rejected, after which the House Democrats printed the entire article on their blog.
The lack of coverage by other news media – particularly newspapers – may strike some as curious, especially in that Reykdal’s outburst does not seem as random when the efforts of fellow Democrat Hasegawa to target the newspaper business earlier this year are taken into account.
In May, Hasegawa had proposed an amendment to a bill in the state Senate that would have forced newspapers to run opinion pieces in opposition to the positions of their editorial boards. Scott St. Clair – writing for the Freedom Foundation at the time – argued that result of Hasegawa’s amendment would have been to create “differing rates of taxation for newspapers based upon their editorial content” and that the legislator’s attempt was “an ill-disguised smack at The Seattle Times.”
Hasegawa’s amendment never made it out of committee, so there is no way to know how Reykdal would have voted if it came up on the floor. But we can guess.