By Tracy Dingmann
Now that all the election dust has cleared, I’ve got time to address something that’s intrigued me regarding an endorsement the Journal made for land commissioner.
On May 18, the Journal endorsed Bob Cornelius as its choice for land commissioner in the Republican primary (you can read the endorsement here.)
The Journal called Cornelius, a native of Tatum, N.M., a “fresh face” in the party and in New Mexico politics. The endorsement approvingly listed several other things about Cornelius, including that he is “currently is a partner in a group working to put together a biomass project in Clovis.”
On May 19, the Santa Fe Reporter published the story, “Cornelius Campaign: Inconsistencies Abound,” which examined several of the details Cornelius had given the Journal and other media outlets, included on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and on the candidate’ website.
The reporter who wrote the story sought to verify a number of details about the company Cornelius said he was working with, to no avail. The SFR story quoted language from Cornelius’s website regarding the company, Petro Verde:
“He is a partner in a company that works with the energy industry to help navigate the burdensome regulations our state has placed on the backs of our small businesses. Their current project is the Petro Verde project in Clovis, where a biogas plan will be built that will create hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in annual revenue for the city of Clovis.”
But the SFR reporter found the mayor of Clovis had never heard of the company and that the Public Regulation Commission shows no permits or investors for it. (There’s a bunch of other questionable stuff in the story about Cornelius, but nothing the Journal mentioned in its endorsement of him, so I’m not going to list it.)
Hmm. From the Journal, there was no acknowledgment of any of the controversy surrounding Cornelius on its news pages – much less on the opinion page, where the endorsement ran.
The Journal endorsed Cornelius again as part of its pre-election recap on Sunday, May 30.
Cornelius lost in the primary on June 2, so his candidacy is over.
But it got me wondering: Has the Journal – or any newspaper for that matter – ever pulled an endorsement before an election after negative facts emerged about the candidate? I’ve talked to people who might know…but nobody remembers for sure. Anyone out there have any details?
That question aside, here’s another: Surely the Journal knew about the irregularities in Cornelius’s campaign as broken by the Santa Fe Reporter and noted elsewhere.
Even though the details were (horrors!) broken by another news outlet, doesn’t the Journal owe it to its readers NOT to ignore the information, and to provide pertinent, current and relevant information about the candidates it endorses?
I’d say any paper that refers to itself as the “paper of record” surely bears that responsibility. What do you think?