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U-T San Diego Editor Doesn’t Want Filner In Mayoral Race

— The editor of U-T San Diego made some news himself last week when a recording was released of him weighing in on the San Diego mayor’s race.

The editor of U-T San Diego made some news himself last week when a recording was released of him weighing in on the San Diego mayor’s race.

Special Feature San Diego Mayor's Race

Special Feature KPBS Election Coverage

Jeff Light and the paper’s editorial board met recently with state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. Fletcher is one of four leading candidates for mayor and famously left the Republican Party earlier this year to run as an independent. In a recording of the U-T San Diego meeting, which was made and released by Fletcher’s campaign, Light can be heard telling Fletcher his switch puts the paper in a tough spot.

“I think we, as an editorial board, do not want to see Bob Filner make it through to the general election,” Light said. “Because the environment around the general election is going to be far more favorable to Filner… so, you know, we certainly want to keep that from happening.”

Light goes on to say Fletcher’s move sent the message that the Republican Party is bad and that Light doesn’t see how the paper can back Fletcher when it has a strong Republican tradition.

Dean Nelson directs the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University. He said he was surprised to see the U-T San Diego editor be so clear about whom he does not want see in the general election. Nelson said the recording of Light hurts the paper’s credibility.

“If it was just their editorial page people, that’s one thing,” he said. “But this is the person who oversees all of their news coverage. So that’s why I found this particularly disturbing.”

Nelson said this might make readers question whether Light’s views influence the U-T’s reporting.

Light has since responded to this story in an e-mail the he also posted on his Facebook page. In it he said:

"I think people need to understand that the key votes on our editorial board belong to our owners, and it should come to no surprise to anyone in San Diego that they would not endorse the candidacy of Bob Filner for mayor. I was just trying to ask Nathan to make a clearer case for the endorsement he was asking for by pointing out, hey, this is a Republican group you are pitching to. There's really no more to it than that."

Light goes on to say he personally does not have any feelings on Filner's candidacy, but that he was just expressing the sentiments of the editorial board, of which he is a part. He says the editorial board does not influence the newsroom and "our journalists are solely focused on the unbiased pursuit of the facts."

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