Cunningham’s Teddy Bear post explanation should have been an apology

Photo: Matt Cunningham

Photo: Matt Cunningham

I rarely agree with the political perspective of Matt Cunningham, the blogger (paid by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce) behind the Anaheim Blog. Matt’s recent posting of a staged picture of a mutilated teddy bear, which clearly mocked the mourning rituals of Latino families and community members for their loved ones, is an example of how sometimes political rhetoric can get out of hand and cause unintended consequences.

In his commentary Cunningham linked the “death” of the teddy bear he found in a planter at Anaheim City Hall, to calls for district elections by Latinos seeking city council elections that foster more reflective and sensitive representation of the Latino community. He specifically targeted Dr. Jose Moreno, one of the plaintiffs in the Voting Rights Act lawsuit against the city, suggesting satirically, that Dr. Moreno had said regarding the “death of the teddy bear,” that: “this tragedy could have been prevented if the city council were elected from single-member districts.”

Cunningham’s post has generated significant outrage, and hurt the family members who remembered the anniversary of the death at the hands of Anaheim police officers, outside city hall the day before his post.

Cunningham initially answered critics of his posting with the following “note” prior to eventually removing the entire post.

[NOTE TO READERS]: A few humorless leftists have read the post and taken exception, so let me say a few things. I found the teddy bear as is on the sidewalk (the candles being the only added touch) – never touched it, never moved it. This post is satire. The subject is the leftist tendency to feed off of tragedies of violence – to contend they have wider social and political meaning behind themselves and exploit them to push their politics and usually a specific policy agenda. Frankly, I expected this reaction from some of these very commenters, given they lack a sense of humor about their politics.

The post has become a lightning-rod—an example—of the insensitivity of the individuals and organizations Cunningham is paid to represent with his commentary, towards the Latino community. Some have gone as far as to call his post an example of racism. I’ve known Matt for a number of years, and while I disagree with him politically, I do not believe him to be a racist. In this case however, Cunningham has managed to once again demonstrate a lack of sensitivity, and good judgment, allowing his political rhetoric to take control of his messaging on behalf of his client, the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.

His removal of the post, and explanation that replaced it, fails to represent any sense of remorse on his part for his actions. By trying to excuse his actions as satire, and those objecting as overreacting, he misses the fundamental lesson he should have learned from the incident. That words and images can be hurtful and that when you hurt someone, you should say you’re sorry, and stop there. That is something Matt Cunningham should have learned in kindergarten.

Why the post is gone

It is also unfortunate, and possibly telling, that the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce has failed to make any statement distancing the organization from this posting on the internet publication which would not exist absent their funding.

Bottom-line, Matt Cunningham’s Teddy Bear post deserves an apology, not an excuse.

NOTE: Since I initially read his explanation, Matt has revised his post to include an apology which I am posting below.

UPDATED: I’ve tried to make clear there was no hurtful intent, but less clearly stated is that I am sorry for hurting anyone’s feelings. Regardless of my honest intent, it’s clear that feelings were hurt nonetheless, independently of anyone’s politics, and for that I am sorry. I have lost family members. I know how it hurts, and I know the loss of a child in the most inconsolable of all, and I sincerely wish I’d had more awareness when writing the post. I have four children, and cannot imagine losing any of them. I’m sure it’s the same for any parent, no matter the circumstances of the death or the path of decisions made and not made that led to it. But I had absolutely no intent or thought of diminishing anyone’s grief or loss.

  36 comments for “Cunningham’s Teddy Bear post explanation should have been an apology

  1. Cynthia Ward
    December 18, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Thank you for saying this. I believe the bullying goes beyond just some faceless title for “The Chamber” because while Todd Ament hired this thug, it is the Board of Directors that looks the other way knowing Todd is pulling this garbage. Over at Voice of OC last night someone (no idea who but brilliant writing) outed the Chamber Board, one…by…one… the outrage at this style of bullying for hire has been building for a long time, and Matt’s juvenile post just brought it all to a boil.

    There is also at least one more layer of accountability that needs to be determined, in that we know the Chamber has no money, their tax returns reflect a six-figure deficit for the years available online, much of it in unpaid payroll taxes, so ultimately while The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce may be the client of record, there appears to be an additional patronage in there somewhere. hiding behind Todd Ament’s skirts. (Shouldn’t have said it, now can’t unsee it.) Instead the model for these “special projects” seems to be an outside entity writing a check to the Chamber, which appears to be passed along to the vendor, with a cut for the Chamber of course. So who is the real client? If one begins with the premise that Matt does nothing anymore without a paycheck, then look over the sidebar of links and story lines and see who he promotes and defends as the champions of Anaheim (possible benefactors) and contrast against who his targets seem to be (enemies of said benefactors) perhaps? Many of us have come to the conclusion-and this is pure speculation,, I admit-that based on who is attacked (like this obscene teddy bear post) and who is promoted, it would not be out of line to believe the Anaheim Police Association run by Kerry Condon might have a checkbook in use here. Disney was always good for a buck or two through the Chamber in my experience, at least when it came time to defend those they felt were their friends, which is what Matt does all day. And there is always the specter of CP lingering in the shadows anytime Matt is in the room.

    Now I will be accused of all kinds of horrid things by the anonymous screen names that haunt AnaheimBlog and sometimes wander out to pollute other venues, calling me a hate monger etc. But these folks need to learn the difference between character assassination and holding public figures accountable for their actions. In creating a vehicle establishing themselves as some sort of moral judge and jury against those of us they feel fall short of their high standards (the benchmark being whether one is willing to sell out the taxpayer for Curt Pringle’s win bonus percentage) whoever is behind this hate-spewing website has set themselves up as public figures in theory. I would remind all that the mothers of these slain young men did NOT ask for the spotlight they are under, nor do they have the means to defend themselves equal to the attacks they endure. Their only goal is to find the truth about what happened to their sons, information that some had predetermined before their young bodies hit the ground, and were dismissed as merely “dangerous, violent gang bangers” without offering proof of gang affiliation or connection to violent crimes. But even in the event the young men are found to be guilty as charged, when did Anaheim become the barbaric backwoods culture of cave-dwelling ignorant knuckle draggers who take the women out in the field behind the village to stone them for the sins of the tribe’s men? These ladies have been treated like criminals for actions they had no part in, before or during the shootings, and to continue their pain for increased blog hits or to give a Police union some sick justification for having shot their kids is so far below any sense of decency that anyone continuing to financially support Matt Cunningham or the Chamber of Commerce needs to own the outcome of that support with very, very vocal outrage from our community. It is time for Anaheim’s decent citizens to rise up and demand that the bullying of political opponents, for doing nothing more than being inconvenient obstacles shining light on their actions, stops NOW, and that those responsible will be held accountable.

    Thank you for speaking up, Chris. No Matt is not a racist, just stupid, and elitist, separating human beings into “us” and “them” in order to justify his demonization of “them” for pay. He bases his allegiances on the color of your money, not the color of your skin.

  2. December 18, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I realize I’ll get flack for this, but yes, Matt is paid by the Anaheim Chamber but its not to blog. Matt does public affairs work. The Anaheim blog is his and his alone.

    Matt and I certainly have our political differences but I have never known him to lie to me.

    I know folks are going to whip out that form 700 and it says Matt is paid by the Anaheim Chamber and that Matt runs the Anaheim blog, ergo the Chamber pays Matt to blog. But that is the syllogism method of reason which is if the first two statements are true than the third must be true (for example, God is love. Love is Blind. Therefore, God is Stevie Wonder).

    Disagree with me if you’d like, but please produce concrete proof Matt’s contract with the chamber is for the express purpose of blogging. If it was, the Chamber would have to approve every post and likely every comment. That isn’t practical.

    • December 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm


      At the outset of my post I said that Matt was paid by the Anaheim Chamber of commerce. I did not say what for. I did however say later in the post that I believe the Anaheim Blog would not exist absent the funding Cunningham receives from the Chamber. While the disclosures which currently exist do not specifically identify blogging as one of his tasks, the synergy between his commentary on Anaheim political issues and the positions of the Chamber are both indisputable and inseparable.

      I think the saying goes something like, don’t believe anything until it’s been officially denied. The official denials are present in this case.

  3. December 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Cynthia — if you wish to complain about anonymous bloggers and commenters who trash you on Anaheim Blog, why do you look the other way for those same sort of individuals on the blog you write for? Glass houses sister….

  4. Claudio W. Gallegos
    December 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

    How do you explain this Dan? Seriously you believe what you want to believe. All because you like a losing baseball team.

    Yet,, a website Ament acknowledged was run by the chamber, recently linked to a post on Anaheim Blog, calling it the “Anaheim Chamber of Commerce Blog”:

    After Tuesday’s media coverage, the power plant site’s reference was changed to just “Anaheim Blog.”

    • December 18, 2013 at 11:49 am

      I have no explanation; its possible the person who wrote that thought that was the case because that’s what everyone else seems to report.

      That said, show me the contract between the Chamber and Cunningham that spells out he’s paid to blog as proof. The truth is, if you set up and run a blog for a client, every post is subject to review and approval. There’s no way the Chamber would approve the Teddy Bear post as it had no bearing on promoting the message the Chamber seeks to get out.

      Latinos do not have an exclusive on the use of Religious candles at the site of a tragedy for mourning purposes. Princess Diana’s memorial, the memorial for that actor from Fast and Furious are two prime examples.

  5. Ryan Cantor
    December 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

    To be fair, this post should probably be updated with Matt’s actual apology, which was published yesterday. Its adequacy, timing, and relevance is up for scrutiny for sure.

    A bit odd to call for something that actually already occurred.

    • December 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Ryan, To be fair, I have now amended this post to include Matt’s apology. It had not been posted when I read his original commentary, which my post was based upon. The premise of my post however is still valid. He should have started with the apology, rather than having to bow to pressure after the fact.

  6. Cynthia Ward
    December 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    No Dan I do not believe we will ever see a Contract calling for Matt to blog for Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, any more than a contract killer signs a “contract” for the killing. Matt gets hired to do public affairs for Chamber. Matt suddenly has a burning desire to create a blog that has to be the equivalent of a part time job to produce, and just so happens to bash those who the Chamber finds “the enemy” and praises those on the same side of the issues. How stupid do I have to be to buy that? I guess you could answer that one Dan.

    Matt did not create the blog until he was dealing with the Chamber and I will bet that the minute they pull the plug on his checks (none too soon) he will suddenly lose interest. In the past the only time I can recall him taking an interest in Anaheim at his other blogs was when he had a personal or monetary interest, but mostly monetary (at least back then he disclosed being on the payroll)

    I have no problem with blogging for hire, I thank God every paycheck that someone out there values the results of my husband’s keyboard to give him a healthy check and benefits or I would be out looking for a real job, but when your passionate personal beliefs and vicious mean-spirited attacks suddenly align (often for the first time) with those of your client, don’t give me any shuck and jive about this being his personal hobby. By the way, if he produces anything for the Chamber other than the blogs can you point to it? Go look at their website, entire pages under construction or outdated, some by YEARS including the stuff for the Enterprise Zone the Chamber is so famously being paid obscene amounts to run (still without an audit!) So tell me, if Matt’s work product is something other than the blog, where is it? Hanging out in a drawer with Brandman’s report sources?

    • stepnfetchit
      December 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      As usual cw spews her vicious lies and keeps burning bridges behind her. btw her inept references to God in all her blurbs is a disgrace, can you say hypocrite at it’s grandest

    • December 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Cynthia, given that no one pays me to blog is this scenario reasonable to you. Chris Prevatt is a union officer and a member of the retirement board who advocates for the pensions of public employees. This blog is pro-labor (with the exception of Corona-infused primary night rants), ergo this blog is funded by labor to promote their views?

      Not isn’t the case at all. But ask me to prove it….what would satisfy you?

  7. Your son the magnificent
    December 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Dan the burden of proof is now on Cunningham and the chamber because everyone connects the blog to te chamber.He refused to produce his contract with the chamber… Why? What is he hiding???

    Very shady

  8. Cynthia Ward
    December 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Oh Dan I truly apologize I just re read what I wrote, I did NOT mean “YOU” when I wrote “but when your passionate personal beliefs and vicious mean-spirited attacks suddenly align (often for the first time) with those of your client, don’t give me any shuck and jive about this being his personal hobby.” I was typing and went back to change the sentence and failed to shift “you” to “his” and so it does NOT mean what it sounds like I meant please forgive the gaffe, I have not accused you of blogging for hire not ever, and did not intend to say so here. If I may edit that sentence above I would be grateful, or if you or Chris could please change it to say “his”….

    • December 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Cynthia, with all due respect, you and Jason Young and Greg Diamond and Vern Nelson can be as outraged as possible, but do you really expect the Anaheim Chamber to fire Cunningham because you all demand it?

  9. December 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Cynthia, I knew what you meant. I am only suggesting is the union pays for us scenario is plausible to you?

    “Son” — there’s no expectation that Matt or the chamber have to disclose their contract. I wouldn’t disclose the terms of any of my contracts with my clients, why should he?

  10. Gustavo Arellano
    December 18, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Not surprised Dan is spinning for his pedophile-protector protecting pal—and this, Orange County, is all you need to know about him…

  11. December 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    You must miss that revenue from Gustavo; you know, the media property your publisher owned that markets prostitutes, massage therapists and other victims of human trafficking. Ho, ho, ho indeed. But even thought Backpage was shamed by the NY Times, you still rely on strip club ads and escort services for a portion of your paycheck. Tidings of comfort and joy.

    Please wish Tom Leykis a Merry Christmas from me; he knows how to kick ass during the Holiday Party season by beating up his former wife. You might want to take stock of your friends and your choices Amigo…..

  12. Ryan Cantor
    December 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    No argument here.

  13. junior
    December 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Morgan Freeman is god.

  14. junior
    December 19, 2013 at 11:09 am

    “.. that is the syllogism method of reason which is if the first two statements are true than the third must be true (for example, God is love. Love is Blind. Therefore, God is Stevie Wonder).”

    Morgan Freeman is god.

  15. December 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    LOL Junior.

    So William Fitzgerald went on another rant at the meeting suggesting the women on the council derive sexual pleasure from supporting an ordinance against the homeless. Tait finally called him a jerk from the dias. Of course, Fitzgerald is still a part of the pro-Tait faction in Anaheim because the ordinance he railed against was a 5-0 vote that included support from Jordan Brandman and Mayor Tait.

  16. Jason Young
    December 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Dan – why don’t you put the rumors to rest and ask Matt who’s paying him to blog.

    • December 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Let me guess Jason. I asked Matt directly. He answered directly. I have relayed his answer. You will say that you don’t believe it. That about right?

      • December 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm

        Crickets Jason….who is paying you to blog.

  17. December 19, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I have asked Matt directly. He blogs on his own. His work for the chamber is related to public affairs and strategic counsel.

    Who pays you to blog?

  18. RHackett
    December 24, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Watching the fallout from this towards Cunningham I’m reminded of a quip from Mark Twain.

    “I have never wished any man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

  19. henry lipton
    January 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I can hear the right wing noise machine cavitating from that challenge. You really socked it to them there dano.

  20. henry lipton
    January 1, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    He is challenging the right wing noise machine. Cant you see that?

  21. Gustavo Arellano
    January 2, 2014 at 11:51 am


  22. Henry Lipton
    January 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I now you didn’t wrote the post Dan. However, you are all over this post writing response that attack the bona fides and claims of other commenters and all in defense of Matt Cunningham. I can read after all. Oh and youre doin a heck of a job challenging that there right wing noise machine Dano.

  23. henry lipton
    January 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Like this challenge right here.

  24. henry lipton
    January 2, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    And here too. Cavitating Im tellin ya.

  25. henry lipton
    January 2, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    And here. That right wing noise machine must be calling on their mafia hitmen for your attacks on Cunningham here Dano. Oh wait….

  26. January 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I am only pointing out that Cunningham is not paid to blog at; there’s a denial from him and the Anaheim Chamber. But a mutual denial just isn’t enough to satisfy the likes of you. I actually take people at their word. Try it sometime.

  27. henry lipton
    January 3, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Right. Just pointing out. Sure Dan. That’s a solid retort.
    Or in the real world where the rest of us live, it looks like you are running interference for Matt against his critics. And for what? who knows. But it sure as heck isn’t challenging the “right Wing Noise Machine”. That machine is incarnate in matt Cunningham.
    The likes of me? What is that supposed to mean?

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