San Diego Union Tribune Alleges Gaffe To Explain Rightwing Facebook Comment

January 9, 2021

A former San Diego Union Tribune staffer is allegedly to blame for a rightwing comment made from the U-T Facebook page account.

Under a post on The San Diego Union Tribune Facebook Page responding to an article with the title "Pelosi threatens impeachment if Trump doesn't resign 'immediately', a comment from the U-T official account read: "Who cares what this woman [Pelosi] wants. So tired of all this. You're getting what you wanted on the 20th and may God have mercy on all your souls." Later in the day the comment was deleted and replaced by another, reportedly from U-T business editor Diana McCabe, who stated that the previous comment was by "a former employee who worked on the business side of the company and who still had access to the U-T account." 

We reached out to Union Tribune publisher and editor in chief Jeff Light for comment and more information about the former staffer who is alleged to have made the comment. Mr. Light refused to provide the identity of the one-time employee, and although he claimed there existed an internal policy about remaining objective in social media posts, would not immediately detail said policy upon request.

"Unfortunately, a former, non-newsroom employee had access to the account," responded U-T editor in chief Jeff Light to an inquiry from SanDiegoVille. "As soon as we saw it the credentials were revoked and the post was deleted. It was a woman who had worked in our circulation department. It's still not clear whether she was logged in to our account unintentionally - maybe the credentials were cookied on her device? — or whether this was on purpose. We are investigating."

Facebook protocols require a page administrator to assign page roles from the back end of a page account. An account admin would have to assign a certain Facebook profile a higher tiered account role (top 3 of 5 or customized) to allow a person to comment as the actual page. Usually, a person would also have to select from a drop down box to choose to interact as a Facebook page rather than as their personal profile.

On their website, The San Diego Union Tribune claims to have a policy of using neutral language in its reporting. The company states using such language "is an important part of conveying the news in a credible and unbiased manner."