Press Release: Racism in Journalism Portland Mercury

November 1st, Portland Mercury recently published a factually weak article by Doug Brown, accusing Commissioner Loretta Smith of illegally “Raking in cash for a city council run.” They accuse Smith of improperly fundraising for her future political campaign. The article was not properly researched and is another example of careless racist journalism in Portland Oregon. This attack on Loretta Smith is another way white-owned and operated Portland newspapers can play fast and loose with the truth whenever a black leader is involved or has a position of power.

The Mercury doesn’t appear committed to accuracy in journalism if it concerns black people in Portland, even respected black leaders like Loretta Smith. For a Newspaper that appears to support The Portland Resistance, shouldn’t the Mercury’s young white reporters also check their facts? The City Charter amended their rules to make it legal to fundraise while also working another position and if they had done their homework, the Mercury would know that. Or maybe they knew already but just didn’t care.

This form of racial bias in journalism proves the point many critics of white liberal media have; that wealthy and influential white media do not genuinely care about African Americans in general, black Portlanders specifically and black leaders in particular. The Mercury also doesn’t seem to care about the role of black leadership or in how they are unjustly smeared in print.

This article by the Mercury is a humiliating demonstration regarding exactly how black leaders in Portland are held to a different standard. Would The Mercury have written such an accusatory and suggestive article about a white candidate running for office? It is unlikely.

Loretta Smith has shared information with me regarding the charter rule that was amended the first of January 2017 that allows her the leeway to do what she’s done.

I challenge the Portland Mercury to admit their factual error and their racism in how they threw Loretta Smith under the bus.

I challenge The Portland Mercury to APOLOGIZE to Commissioner Smith and all the black residents of Portland for their careless article. I challenge the Mercury to stop hiring only white staff writers and to practice what they preach about truly recognizing and promoting racial diversity and most importantly racial equity and equality for the black residents of Portland.

2017 needs to be the year Portland media makes some big changes if they expect to b taken seriously. This process begins when they stop excluding people of color from leadership roles or in political debates as happened last year. This process begins by not attacking black leaders as easy targets and smearing their names in print simply because they can.

Other national newspapers and social justice organizations are watching Portland. There are other individuals and entities in this nation who are watching “The Whitest City” in the country, including some well-known journalists and even The Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, and the Oregonian newspapers must learn to adapt to a changing political climate due to racial discrimination that continues to infect this country, and to the greater expectations that accompany that shift. These newspapers must stop promoting shoddy yellow journalism and the blatant racism that goes with that.

They need to hire more black staff writers, and journalists and focus on issues and black concerns. They need to stop merely talking the talk of diversity and inclusion. They need to start walking the walk and that means action, and doing.


Mulnomah County Charter


Portland Mercury Article on Loretta Smith


Facebook Post to Fred Stewart from Loretta Smith

Loretta Smith Fred, I want to first say I am following the Multnomah County Charter rules.

Jules Bailey did the same thing last year when he ran for Mayor and the Portland Mercury did not do write an inflated story on his legality. I just want to be treated fairly by you and the press.

Secondly, I do not want a compliment from you every time you see me about my beauty or attractiveness for the rest of my life. That is not necessary.

You have have an important voice that is needed and should be heard on housing. Insulting my integrity and repeating misinformation will only distract you and others from your real gift and expertise on housing issues that must be shared during this crisis.

Many folks are not aware that there are new rules that former Commissioners did not have. Below are the new rules effective January 1, 2017.
All the papers have this too. They chose to give their story a different slant and focus. Sir, I believe you owe me an apology.

Peace and blessings to you.

4.20. Terms Of Office; Successive Terms; Running For Office In Midterm.

(3) Effective January 1, 2017, Commissioners of Multnomah County may run for the Office of Chair of Multnomah County mid-term without resigning their current elected office. No elected official of Multnomah County may run for another elective office in midterm without resigning first. Filing for another office in midterm shall be the same as a resignation, effective as of date of filing. “Midterm” does not include the final year of an elected official’s term. Filing for another office in the last year of an elective term shall not constitute a resignation.
[Amendment (ballot measure 26-76) adopted by people Nov. 3, 1998; amendment (ballot measure 26-78) adopted by people May 16, 2006; amendment (ballot measure 26-182) adopted by people Nov. 8, 2016]




One thought on “Press Release: Racism in Journalism Portland Mercury

  1. From: Doug Brown
    To: “theresa”
    Date: November 7, 2017 at 7:49 PM
    Subject: Re: Press Release
    Hello Theresa and/or Fred,

    Thank you for your press release. I also agree that the lack of diversity in the media is a huge problem and I also understand that, as a white man, I can not truly know pain of racial discrimination firsthand.

    I also stand by my facts in the Loretta Smith campaign finance story, though. It is correct that I did not write about Jules Bailey’s early campaign fundraising and there are two reasons for it: 1) I did not arrive in Portland until March 2016 when the midterm no-campaigning rule was no longer applicable, and 2) Multnomah County did not have the strict campaign fundraising limits that now apply for elected office here; that started on September 1, 2017—that law wasn’t on the books when Bailey was fundraising. If the county’s campaign finance rule was in place when Bailey was fundraising, and if I worked in Portland at that time and learned about it, I would have written about it. And I never, ever, claimed she was violating CITY rules in her fundraising like you say, but rather that there were potential conflicts with COUNTY rules.

    Racism is a definitely a real issue in Portland and I can understand why it’s frustrating to see a Black candidate in an increasingly white city be featured in a non-flattering article. But I don’t accept your premise that Loretta Smith’s race was a reason I reported the story. It’s simply not true. If I find out confirmable stuff about ANY government official, I report that too (I’ve written waaaaay more “negative” articles about Ted Wheeler than Loretta Smith, for example).

    As a reporter I’ve always tried my best to expose racism as much and as loud as I can. I am no way claiming to be a perfect race-conscious reporter—I, like everybody else in my position, have so much more to learn, obviously. But I wanted to share some of stories I’ve done where in Portland where I’ve tried to be race-conscious the best I can. Here are some things I’ve done in reverse chronological order, since arriving here in March 2016:

    • CBS News to Air Special on Portland’s White Supremacist History
    • Russell Courtier’s Lawyer Wants His Confession, White Supremacist Connections Suppressed in Court
    • KKK Sign Found at Portland’s Roosevelt High School
    • White Portland Man Accused of Following, Threatening Black Man
    • Hundreds Gather in Downtown Portland to Rally Against Trump’s DACA Decision
    • DACA Done: A Day of Protests as Trump’s Cruelty Continues (Updated)
    • Public Transit Racism Is Once Again in the Spotlight
    • White Portland Man Accused of Yelling Racial Slurs, Preventing Black People From Entering MAX Train
    • Portland’s New Police Chief; She’s Respected by Civil Rights Advocates
    • Multnomah County Republicans Formally Allow Militia Groups to Run Security
    • Gresham Man Accused of Pointing Handgun At Hispanic Couple, Yelling “You Damn Mexicans”
    • Local Attorney John Schlosser is Pushing a Better Court System for Immigrants
    • Multnomah County Courts Have Been Quietly Aiding Non-Citizens For Years
    • Suspect in Portland Hate Crime Murders is a Known White Supremacist (I broke the news that Jeremy Christian is a white supremacist and took the photos of him doing the Nazi salute)
    • Police Union Upset With City For Acknowledging Racism
    • Guarding Immigrant Rights in the Trump Era
    • Check Out This Dumb Shit the Oregon Republican Party Said About Portland and Immigrants
    • Quanice Hayes’ Mom Criticizes Police, Prosecutors After Officer Who Killed Her son Isn’t Indicted
    • It Happened Here: Mittleman Jewish Community Center Receives Bomb Threat
    • Video: A Muslim Lake Oswego Resident Talks About Racist, Islamophobic Incidents in Town
    • A Crowd of Hundreds Marches to Demand Justice in Quanice Hayes Killing

    • Intimidation is Running Rampant in Trump-Era Portland
    • Russell Courtier, The White Supremacist Accused of Killing Larnell Bruce, Indicted for 2015 Assault
    • Local Activists Call Out Disparate Treatment After Controversial Bundy Acquittal
    • Prosecutors Say the Racist Who Ran Down Larnell Bruce “Cannot Be Rehabilitated”
    • White Supremacist Admits to Harassing Vietnamese Neighbors in Klamath Falls
    • New Hate Crime Indictment For The White Supremacist Charged In Black Teen’s Murder in Gresham
    • A Black Teen Was Run Down in Gresham; His Killer Is in a Notorious Oregon White Supremacist Prison Gang
    • The Portland Man Accused of Murdering A Black Teenager Is Connected to A White Supremacist Gang
    • “Practice Peace but Prepare for War”

    I take allegations of racism seriously. I don’t believe I acted with ill-will, especially not ill-will on the basis of race, when I reported the campaign finance story last week. But I will listen.

    And I would have appreciated the chance to address your concerns and allegations against me before you publicly alleged I am a racist. I gave Loretta Smith a phone call with the opportunity to respond well before publishing and she declined to talk with me (which is her right). I communicated extensively with her spokesperson, though, multiple times via phone and email, and I included his response. I would have appreciated the same opportunity from you.

    Please feel free to contact me directly in the future. Or not—do whatever you’d like, but this is my email address.


    Doug Brown
    News reporter, Portland Mercury


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