Yesterday, the Miami Herald editorial board dropped a bomb on its readership, endorsing Katherine Fernandez Rundle to continue her reign as Miami-Dade County's state attorney, albeit "with reservations."
"This is not a full-throated, unequivocal endorsement of the incumbent," the editorial reads, in part. "Her 27-year tenure has been at times flawed, at times infuriating, at times befuddling. She can, and must, do better."
Some would say it was both infuriating and befuddling when Rundle opted not to charge the corrections officers who locked 50-year-old Darren Rainey, an inmate at Dade Correctional Institution, in a scalding shower and left him to die. And when Rundle said she couldn't prosecute Jesús "Jesse" Menocal, a Hialeah police officer with a history of using his power to prey on women and girls because there were no witnesses to make the case. (This, despite the Herald's own investigation, which found that prosecutors never interviewed three out of four witnesses and dismissed the women as gang members and runaways.)
Yet somehow, the editorial board pulled off the gymnastic journalistic feat of citing those "missteps" and still giving Rundle the thumb-up for another four years. The Herald argues that Rundle has the "muscle" and "valuable experience" to push for reforms in police departments, jails, prisons, and courtrooms.
Twitter, though, was having none of it.
Miami-based documentary filmmaker Billy Corben said the editorial board members "fail to be the institutional memory and conscience of our community":
The final nail in @HeraldOpEd’s coffin. From Marlins Park to this, they fail to be the institutional memory and conscience of our community, inexplicably promoting corruption. If the Herald’s new owner Chatham wants to cut costs, start with @NancyAncrum and @LuisaYanez27. https://t.co/E7VkdsyB9I— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) August 9, 2020
Juan Cuba, the former chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, which has twice called on Rundle to resign from office, called the endorsement "embarrassing":
This is such an embarrassing endorsement. After all the extraordinary reporting from @jkbjournalist, the Herald endorses a 27yr incumbent as changemaker ????— Juan Cuba (@juancuba) August 9, 2020
Also, you’re wrong about “no other prosecutor in the state of Florida has done so either” - @aronberg has.
Even The Plantain, Miami's satirical "news" site, got in on the action:
Here is The Plantain's FULL TAKE on The Miami Herald's trash heap of an endorsement. Please share.https://t.co/X4rD9BFkg5— The Plantain (@the_plantain) August 9, 2020
Several people, including Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana, pointed out a factual error in the editorial. The editorial board wrote that while Rundle hasn't charged a law enforcement officer with an on-duty killing in her nearly three decades in office, neither has any Florida prosecutor. That's false. In 2015, the Broward State Attorney's Office charged Broward sheriff's deputy Peter Peraza with manslaughter in the 2013 shooting death of Jermaine McBean. A judge later dismissed the charge.
And in Palm Beach County in 2016, the state attorney charged Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja in the shooting death of Corey Jones. Raja was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, a punishment he is appealing.
This statement isn’t true. The Broward SAO charged deputy Peraza in the death of Jermain McBean. The PBC SAO charged officer Nouman Raja for the on duty shooting and death of Corey Jones. He was convicted last year making it the first of an officer for such in 30 years. pic.twitter.com/HM1CzD8foE— Sabrina Javellana (@jvellana) August 9, 2020
Melba Pearson, Rundle's progressive challenger, issued a press release today calling for the editorial board to correct its "factually incorrect endorsement."
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"I hope the Miami Herald editorial board fixes this egregious mistake and publicly recognizes that the State Attorneys in both Broward and Palm Beach have both charged officers for on-duty killings," Pearson stated in the release.
As of 24 hours after publication, the editorial board had not corrected or clarified its assertion.
Pearson also responded to the editorial board labeling her "naive" for being willing to try "less-than-winnable" cases against police officers.
"The Herald seems to chide my willingness to charge bad cops when a case appears to [be] difficult to win, but they seem to be missing the point that cases should be charged when evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed — not just when a win seems likely," she said.