Understanding San Francisco

How the San Francisco news is controlled - and who benefits

Any reasonable person observing the events of July 25, 1997 and what preceded them would have to ask the question: What caused the mayor and the local news media to take such a sudden, vocal and violent dislike to the monthly Critical Mass ride?

Another question, perhaps not obvious to those who aren't familiar with the extensive research that's been done on the subject since: Why did the local news media so thoroughly distort the facts of what happened that evening and then refuse to correct itself even when presented with incontrovertible evidence.

The following may offer some clues:

There are two daily newspapers in San Francisco, the Chronicle and the Examiner. The Chronicle also owns Channel 4.

As is the case throughout the country, the revenue for San Francisco's television news programs derives largely from advertising from new car dealers. The impact of this dependency is described in depth here.

The newspapers have their own dependencies, namely the city's large downtown department stores like Macy's and the Emporium.

(Not so well known is the fact the both the Chronicle and the Examiner are still controlled by the original families that founded them and both these families have extensive real estate holdings in San Francisco. Of the two papers, the Chronicle is the most dependent on San Francisco real estate for its wealth and the deYoung family and its heirs have openly used the Chronicle to promote their real estate business.)

Department stores keep very close records of their sales and a source at one of the city's largest stores tells us that on the evening of the June Critical Mass ride, sales were off for this store by approximately $250,000.

San Francisco department stores have a long history of working with the mayor and police to reduce the impact of public events and demonstrations on their sales. The owners of the Chronicle and Examiner are particularly sensitive to these issues because of the significant advertising revenue they receive from downtown department stores and, especially in the case of the extended Chronicle family, a signigicant portion of its net worth is tied up in downtown real estate.

It is has been reported to us that after the June ride and before the July ride, representatives of the city's major department stores, the mayor's office, and the police department met to develop a tactics to reduce the impact of Critical Mass on downtown shopping. One of the strategies was to impose a route that took riders away from downtown. Another, worked out between Mayor Brown and Deputy Chief Dick Holder, was to create a photogenic "riot" incident that would tarnish the reputation of the event and deter others from joining it. The July ride, which was attacked by police, was reported to have attracted as many as 10,000 riders.

The Chronicle and the Examiner had every reason to cooperate with the slander campaign against the Critical Mass ride started by Mayor Brown. By doing so, they pleased their most important clients and preserved the value of their real estate holdings.

(Often, when a store rents prime space, it is compelled to pay both rent and a percentage of sales. Additional research will be required to determine who owns the plots the city's major stores sit on and the terms of their leases.)

This explanation may finally makes sense of why the local news media turned on the Critical Mass ride with such suddeness and viciousness and why to this day they continue to misrepresent the events of July 25, 1997 in the face of mountains of documentary evidence including photographs, video, and sworn eye witness accounts.

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