GOP accuses state's largest paper of being biased

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Republican Party of Alaska in a new political commercial alleges that the Anchorage Daily News is biased in favor of gubernatorial candidate Democrat Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer.

The 30-second ad contends that the Daily News' coverage favors Ulmer because of the money the state spends with the newspaper.

The ad shows newspaper stories with Ulmer's name in the headline as the screen fills with red hearts. A chart then shows that state spending with the Daily News has increased from $587,693 in 1995 to $1,329,157 in 2001 in a ''noncompetitive sweetheart deal.''

''Looks like printing nice things about Fran Ulmer is just like printing money for the Daily News,'' a voice in the commercial says.

The state spends money in the Daily News for legal and other kinds of advertising, subscriptions and printing.

Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich said Tuesday that the party officials are upset about ''news column and editorial coverage favorable to the administration, and absolutely no coverage of equivalent material that is unfavorable to the administration or campaign.''

For example, he said, the Daily News is not adequately covering complaints filed by the Republicans over the legality of some of Democratic candidate Ulmer's campaign contributions.

And the Daily News did not report on a television advertisement attacking Republican candidate Frank Murkowski's record on education spending until five days after the ad appeared. ''Generally you report the news the day it occurs,'' Ruedrich said.

Daily News publisher Mike Sexton said the Republican commercial is misleading and ''appears to be an act of desperation by the Republicans trying to deflect hard questions their candidate can't answer.''

He said video in the Republican ad showing a newspaper being printed and money changing hands implies that good coverage, and even endorsements, can be bought.

''There's absolutely no validity,'' Sexton said.

He said Daily News editorials have criticized both candidates' fiscal plans, and both ''the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have complained at times.''

He added that Daily News writers and editors aren't even aware of the amount of money the state spends on advertising.

The Republican Party got its information on state spending in the newspaper from Motznik Computer Services, which compiles state checks written every month, except for salaries, welfare checks and Permanent Fund dividends.

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