Massachusetts Mainstream TV and Newspaper Journalists Voting With Their Debit Cards — And It’s All In One Direction

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Mainstream media outlets in the United States are often described as having liberal biases, although some outlets deny the charge.

While there are some publications that are open about where their writers and editors stand — like New Boston Post, which says “The hub of conservative thought” at the top of the web site — others do not. Some outlets present themselves as impartial.

Yet when it comes to daily newspapers and TV news stations in Massachusetts, which way do their employees lean?

New Boston Post examined political donations of writers, reporters, journalists, editors, producers, and news contributors at media outlets in the state. New Boston Post limited the reach to contributions made during this current election cycle, starting with January 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2020, the most recent date for which the Federal Elections Commission has made individual donations public. The search applied to people who are still employed by a news outlet, and it excluded food and theater critics. 

Within those parameters, New Boston Post found 14 members of the mainstream media in Massachusetts who qualified. All of their donations went to Democrats or left-wing political action committees. None went to Republicans or conservative causes.

The Boston Globe had a donor: Abbi Matheson, a senior digital producer for the Opinion and Ideas sections.

Matheson donated $125 to Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign via ActBlue, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Matheson contributed another $2 to ActBlue’s general funds, which go towards electing Democratic politicians and supporting progressive causes. 

Bina Venkataraman, The Boston Globe’s editorial page editor, criticized Matheson’s donation in an email message to New Boston Post.

“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention,” she wrote. “The donations digital producer Abbi Matheson made were contrary to our newsroom ethics policy. We take this matter seriously and are handling it internally. We are confident this lapse will not happen again.”

A pair of reporters at Gannett newspapers — Susannah Sudborough of the Taunton Daily Gazette and Ben Berke of the Brockton Enterprise — also donated to progressive causes.

Sudborough donated $50 to Fair Fight PAC, founded by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden. Berke gave $40 to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.

Neither reporter provided New Boston Post with a comment on the matter, but Chrissy Terrell, a Gannett spokesman, did.

“We prohibit making any donations,” Terrell wrote in an email message and providing a link. “The policy is publicly available here and below is where we specifically reference that we prohibit donations:  ‘We will not support political campaigns or causes through the display of bumper stickers, signs, pins, public/private donations, participation in demonstrations, petitions or in social media posts.’ ” 

“We cannot comment at this time on the specific employees or donations you cited,” she added.

New England Newspapers Inc., which operates The Berkshire Eagle, took a different approach concerning two of its employees’ donations.

Berkshire Eagle sports editor Geoff Smith gave $35 to Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign and copy editor Mitchell Chapman gave $2.70 to Sanders’s presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Fred Rutberg, the publisher of New England Newspapers Inc., explained his thought process in an email message to New Boston Post.

“With regard to your inquiry regarding our policy on employees making political contributions, New England Newspapers, Inc. requests that its employees adhere to the guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists. While I do not believe the matters you raise breach those guidelines, they approach them closely enough that we will use your email as a teachable moment for which I am grateful to you,” Rutberg wrote.

The Society of Professional Journalists recommends that “reporters not take a position on an issue, or in a candidate race, that they are covering. They may do so privately, but they definitely should not do so in a public or visible way.”

Smith and Chapman could not be reached for comment earlier this week.

Most of the other media outlets, their parent companies, and the reporters and editors could not be reached for comment this week.

Tom Westerholm, a Boston Celtics beat writer for The Republican of Springfield and the newspaper’s web site,, was the biggest progressive donor in daily print media in Massachusetts this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records. He had made $643.40 worth of contributions through the second quarter of 2020. Much of that money went to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, but his most recent contribution was $25 to Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse’s congressional campaign in Massachusetts’s First District.

Neither Westerholm and nor a spokesman for Advance Publications, which owns The Republican and MassLive, could be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Ed Kubosiak, the vice president of content for MassLive, emailed New Boston Post saying, “I received notice that you have reached out to MassLive reporter Thomas Westerholm seeking comment on his political contributions. Please note we will not be offering comment.”

Salem News reporter Buck Anderson made the second most donations among daily print media outlets in Massachusetts during the past two years. Through the second quarter of 2020, he had made $555 worth of donations in this election cycle. Most of the donations have gone to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He could not be reached for comment earlier this week.

Lynn Daily Item news editor Cheryl Charles is another triple-digit political contributor. Through the end of the second quarter of 2020, she had given $295 to left-wing political campaigns and political action committees so far in this election cycle. Politicians she had donated to include former presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris as well as democratic socialist member of Congress Ilhan Omar, and her fellow squad member, U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester), whose Seventh Congressional District goes as far north as Everett, which is one city over from (but not within) the Lynn Item‘s coverage area.

Charles said she doesn’t see a problem with the donations, telling New Boston Post by email, “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to comment on. My contributions are personal decisions and not affiliated with my job.”

Additionally, Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter Greta Jochem gave $42 to Sanders’s presidential campaign, and Chris Harris, the supplements editor of The Recorder of Greenfield has given $75 to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. 

Neither Jochem nor Harris responded to New Boston Post’s request for comment on Monday or Tuesday.

Television journalists have also given to Democrats.

WHDH reporter Justin Bourke gave $50 to Sanders’s presidential campaign and another $5 to ActBlue. WHDH video editor Michael Lang gave $10 to Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign and another $2 to ActBlue. Neither could be reached for comment this week.

Boston 25 also has a pair of employees who gave to Democrats, albeit modestly. Anchor Nicole Oliverio gave $5 to the Biden campaign and a $1 to ActBlue; Around Town host Michele Lazcano also gave $25 to Marianne Williamson’s presidential campaign.

Oliverio and a spokesman for Cox Media Group, which owns Boston 25, could not be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday.

Lazcano told New Boston Post in an email message, “I’d prefer to keep my political views private, but thank you.”