Is the Oregonian biased on PGE?

By Mike Munk of Portland, Oregon. [Editor's note: The following letter was sent to the Oregonian, but not printed.]

To the Editor:

A photo accompanying your article on the City Council's unanimous vote to demand a true accounting of PGE/Enron finances ("City agrees to dig into PGE finances," Dec. 8) showed a PGE "governmental relations" director testifying and two other individuals waiting to testify. One was Bill Parish, a well known expert and consultant on utility finances and the other was Bill Michtom, a consumer advocate. I looked forward to learning what these two important witnesses had to say to the city commissoners.

Instead, your reporter completely ignored them while giving generous space to Enron/ PGE's spokespeople, including unchallenged statements she solicited in interviews. In a another example of reporting bias, the article seemed to warn the City not to attempt to lower PGE rates because it would "meet harsh resistance from PGE" (what else?) and that it would "run up" against the state Public Uitlities Commission.

I believe the time has come to ask whether The Oregonian's reporting on Enron/PGE reflects its historic ideological opposition to public power, expressed the same day on the editorial page by "Shooting PGE first, asking questions later" and the oped space ("The facts show PGE acted with integrity") donated to PGE's "public policy " flack.

Your editorial page also noted that Enron's reputation ranked at the bottom of 60 corporations. You challenge your readers to ask whether they support the City Council's efforts to find out just why, compared to publicly owned utilities, we are paying such outrageously high rates. Especially when the alternative is having those rates manipulated by a corrupt corporation, of course we support our elected representatives.

More power to them!

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    I have it on good authority from several Oregonian editors that the ghost of Harvey Scott still stalks the newsroom there. (Scott, the O's longtime editor, was a classic reactionary and crony of Portland's corrupt elite before the turn of the 20th century.

    Fortunately, more O readers read Steve Duin's column than the editorials.

  • Terry (unverified)

    Hell yes the Oregonian is biased in its coverage of PGE! Not only has the O given space to PGE's PR flacks, it has repeatedly published the views of PGE CEO Peggy Fowler and its retired VP Fred Miller. And private utility supporter Neil Goldschmidt.

    That galling bias is why I wrote my tongue-in-cheek proposal to privatize Portland's water supply. From the Oregonian's point of view, it's the next logical step.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    The Oregonian is biased in its coverage.

    I think anyone who has dealt with them on issues understands that. Once the editorial board takes a position reporters find angles to do stories that reflect positively on that position. They avoid writing things that directly contradict it. When they support us, we bask in the glory of having that support. When they oppose us we are enraged by the unfairness of the coverage.

    That is life in Portland.

  • (Show?)

    if you want some relevant discussion on this topic, you might also try posting at Oregon Media Insiders. you're likely to get some feedback from people familiar with editorial processes -- it's always a good place to talk about, well, media

  • (Show?)

    well, i screwed up that url

    it's OMI

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Yes, their reporting is biased. Given the sometimes comedic support for PGE by the Big O editorial board, this is not surprising. The Tribune reporting has actually been worse, though.

    <h2>I should note that there has been some good reporting by the Clackamas County Oreognian reporters. Or perhaps I should't note it, as I may get those reporters in trouble. Andy Parker has also done some good columns on PGE.</h2>
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