Earlier this week, Francisco "Quico" Canseco, the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, announced he would not meet with the San Antonio Express-News editorial board, citing his hometown paper's "inherent bias" in favor of his Democratic opponent.
In a campaign email, Canseco's campaign released a letter it wrote replying to Editorial Page Editor Bruce Davidson's request for an interview, which describes numerous instances of what it believes to be prejudiced coverage — including no mention of a private poll showing Canseco in the lead. The letter also calls a story on $715,000 of liens associated with Canseco's various business ventures "the epitome of disgraceful journalism" and complains that "to date, writers of the San Antonio Express-News will not even return calls from our campaign." (Read the full text of the letter here).
Bob Richter, public editor of the Express-News, sent a note to the Tribune today responding to the Canseco campaign's charges.
Here's what Richter had to say about the poll: "[The letter] is dated Aug. 25. In fact, Gary Martin wrote about the new poll in his Aug. 28 column on the Express-News op-ed page."
As for the lien story, Richter said:
The Express-News stands by its story. Canseco was asked for and responded to a request for comment in the story. His comment appeared high in the piece. Canseco’s campaign didn’t seek corrections after the story was published. Indeed, Canseco participated in a radio interview the day the story ran, with Gilbert Garcia, our reporter who wrote the story.
What [the letter] didn't say is that in the 2008 Republican primary election, Canseco used a similar tactic (liens) to go after Lyle Larson, his GOP opponent. That campaign ad was cited in the July 8 story as well. I asked Garcia to characterize that. Here is what he said:
“Canseco’s ad concerned a $950 tax debt that the Larson family had settled 22 years earlier. That debt was related to the estate of Larson’s late father, and Larson himself had nothing to do with the handling of that estate. Canseco’s ad proclaimed that Larson ‘failed to pay his own taxes’ and included a bold-red ‘Sued’ banner over a picture of Larson. Larson asked the Canseco campaign to pull the ads, but they refused.”
I also asked Garcia to characterize the radio interview. His comment:
“I did an interview with KTSA’s Jack Riccardi the day the story ran, and Canseco also participated in that interview. Canseco assured Riccardi that he yanked the 2008 Larson ad after a few days. The next day, Larson was a guest on Riccardi’s ‘Gang of Four’ panel, and when Riccardi asked about the issue, Larson refuted Canseco’s laim, saying the ad was never pulled and it ran until the end of their primary campaign.)”
Richter also said the Express-News political writers "categorically deny" the letter's claim that they don't return the Canseco campaign's phone calls. "That's absurd," he wrote, adding "As you know, typically it’s the other way around: The politicians don’t return our calls, especially when we’re asking about bad news."