Audrey Cooper, assistant metro editor of the Chron, tells the Bay Guardian that her paper "decided to stop using the word 'progressive' to describe the more liberal of San Francisco's political factions because it is a politically loaded term that doesn't mean much to our readers. And while 'progressive' may be the preferred term of some politicians — and, of course, they are free to use it to describe themselves — it doesn't describe where they sit on the traditional political spectrum."
"We believe using adjectives such as 'far left' and 'ultra liberal' more accurately describe city politicians and policies in that broader context," Cooper said in an e-mail to the Guardian's Bruce Brugmann.
Brugmann says Mayor Gavin Newsom's gubernatorial campaign complained about the use of the word progressive, but Newsom's press secretary Nathan Ballard denied leaning on the Chron. "I have to admit that I'm pleased to learn from you that the Chronicle will no longer be using the term 'progressive' to describe politicians who aren't," Ballard tells the Guardian. "It always struck me as Orwellian doublespeak to describe somebody who wants to legalize sex trafficking and force lobbyists to wear badges as 'progressive.'"
At least one progressive, uh, far left winger is upset about the change. George Avalos, a supervisorial candidate in San Francisco's Excelsior District, complained to Cooper about the change. "The Chron's use of 'ultra left' and 'far left' is completely biased. After all, who's the arbiter here about what 'ultra left' and 'far left are?' What standard are you using and where did it come from? Seems pretty made up to me. Very rarely or better yet, never do I hear progressives talk about themselves in these terms. The Chron's making it up out of whole cloth," Avalos said in an e-mail to Cooper that was quoted by the Guardian.