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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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From an ex-editor

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 2, 2020

Stunned. Shocked. Horrified. Disappointed.

I have been searching for the right words to describe my reactions to Sunday’s editorial endorsement of Donald Trump.

But the word I keep coming back to is “sadness.”

I am sad for the Spokesman journalists who must live with this stain for years to come. They deserve better.

And I am sad for publisher Stacey Cowles, whose legacy is forever tarnished.

In my nearly 40-year newspaper career, Stacey was easily the best publisher with whom I ever worked. On the editorial board we often had our political disagreements.

But where it mattered most, Stacey was a rare publisher, an editor’s publisher. I made his life difficult. But he always, ALWAYS had my back. At his core, he is a decent man and I always thought he had a strong moral center.

So how to explain Sunday’s miss? On one level, the editorial was breathtakingly honest about the transactional nature of the president’s support. As the editorial noted, Trump is a sorry excuse for a human being. But Stacey is willing to forgive that for doubtful, in-truth fraudulent economic benefits.

Maintaining a quality local newspaper in difficult times should have been Stacey’s legacy. But he will have to live with Sunday’s shameful editorial for years to come and that is a sad thing.

Steven A. Smith, Spokesman-Review editor, 2002 to 2008

Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Idaho School of Journalism and Mass Media


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