Meg to Differ

BAY AREA AFFAIRS: Declining a chance to talk to the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board will not help Meg Whitman in the long-run.

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This was a week of firsts for gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. In addition to breaking the record for campaign self-funding - contributing $119 million thus far for her bid for governor - Whitman also declined the invitation to speak with the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board, making her the only statewide candidate in memory to do so.

Although it can be assumed that both decisions were made by Whitman's campaign to theoretically help her chances in the statewide election, declining the chance to talk to the Chronicle is not a wise strategy.

Whitman's campaign claimed that the candidate had already selected which newspapers she wanted to target. However, excluding one of California's major newspapers that serves the fourth largest city in the state hardly seems to be a smart omission.

If Whitman becomes governor, she will be dealing with issues in this part of the state just like all other areas. Refusing to directly address its newspaper and people now simply sets a troubling precedent.

While the Bay Area undeniably serves as a liberal hub for the country, let alone the state, the fact that Whitman removed herself from the discussion forum here speaks to a few key points. She might have felt the Chronicle's coverage of her campaign has been misrepresented and she would not get fair treatment with an interview.

Still, since the interview would have been recorded and shared with the public, Whitman could have pointed to the primary source in her own defense if she felt any of the Chronicle's conclusions were unbalanced.

Additionally, Whitman must believe that talking to the newspaper would do her more harm than good. In weighing her options, somehow facing the repercussions of refusing the editorial board's invitation was a better bet than having an interview on the record. This attitude appears ominous for our political system as a whole, especially if winning the Whitman way means avoiding discussion.

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