Daily Planet Mum on Charges Editor Manipulates News



We've been waiting for Berkeley Daily Planet editor Becky O'Malley to respond to charges that she drove her reporter Judith Scherr to quit in exasperation ever since the news hit the SF Weekly's web site. Will Harper, the Weekly's managing editor and unrepentant degenerate, reported that after resigning, Scherr sent a mass email to her friends, in which she said she just couldn't take O'Malley's abuse and reworking of stories to fit her personal political agenda anymore: "After 2.5 years of being insulted, berated and lied to by the Daily Planet's executive editor — and having my stories distorted by the deletion of quotes from persons Becky O'Malley hates and the addition of her nasty remarks about such people — I have left the Planet."

The proverbial straw came earlier this month, when Scherr was assigned to write a story about complaints from City Council candidate Sophie Hahn that her opponents were stacking the endorsement meetings of political clubs with supporters. After writing the story, Scherr claimed, she learned that Hahn had done exactly the same thing. What's more, she claimed that O'Malley knew all about it, but didn't tell her own reporter because she backed Hahn in the election. O'Malley denied the charges and suggested she might sue Scherr for libel.

After the piece hit the Weekly's Web site, someone named "Becky O'Malley" wrote a comment in response, in which she repeated the denials and claimed she had an email in which she explicitly told Scherr about Hahn's meeting-stacking practices. "I challenge Scherr to produce evidence of ONE SINGLE INSTANCE in the two years she worked for us of my adding or subtracting anything from her stories, except of course fixing the frequent grammatical errors and misspelled names in what she turned in." O'Malley wrote. Then she went even further, promising that she'd deal with this more at her paper's own Web site: "I have hesitated to go public with this because I thought Judith might need to get a job somewhere again, but this leaves me no choice. You can read more about it later in the week at berkeleydailyplanet.com."

The natural moment for O'Malley to print more about the Scherr kerfuffle would be yesterday, when her paper hit the stands. But Thursday came and went, with nothing but an oblique reference to her policy of letting staffers express their own opinions in the pages of the Planet. Maybe O'Malley needed the extra day to compose her thoughts, and we'll see something up this afternoon. We'll let you know.