A reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle covering the city’s heated mayoral race emailed a list of questions to Korean American candidate Jane Kim for a possible story — including why she never disclosed income from a company related to her father’s employer, Kiss Products, despite records showing a “Jane Kim” on its payroll.
Turns out, the reporter got the wrong Jane Kim.
“Kim is actually a very common Korean name.” the candidate wrote in her reply.
The campaign’s full response — in the form of a public Medium blog that included a copy of the reporter’s questions and Kim’s blistering responses — accused the Chronicle of inadequate research and biased reporting.
“Even though we received these questions less than 24 hours ago, my team Googled ‘Jane Kim’ and ‘Ivy Enterprises,’ called the company and spoke to this other Jane Kim who confirmed her employment. I would suggest the Chronicle also verify information received from opposition research in the future,” Kim wrote.
Most of the questions from reporter Rachel Swan revolved around Kim’s private school education and her family’s personal finances, in contrast with her liberal politics that seem to champion the middle class. Others dove into the details of her childhood growing up in New York City and her parent’s luxury condo purchase in 1989.
For example: “Could it not be seen disingenuous to paint yourself as a hero of the people, when your father has this high-paying executive job [at Kiss Products, a global cosmetic company]?”
Kim included in her reply, “The way this question is asked leads me to believe this reporter has already pre-determined the outcome of this piece — which is why I am sharing the questions and my answers directly with voters.”
To answer why she never discussed her dad’s financial success on the campaign trail, she wrote: “I’m rarely asked about my dad’s career … I believe most voters would find it very retro to measure a woman by her dad’s job.”
The next day, the Chronicle’s chief editor Audrey Cooper apologized in an editor’s note on May 4: “…those written questions were inappropriately worded and insufficiently researched. They failed to meet the journalistic standards of The Chronicle.” Swan has since been taken of the city election beat.
Last month, the Chronicle endorsed candidate London Breed, originally the city’s acting mayor following the unexpected death of Ed Lee in December, who previously held the post.
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