Friday, January 04, 2008

Media for Schweitzer?

What's Right in Montana has this odd post, anticipating "an all-out effort from the media" supporting Brian Schweitzer's re-election. I don't think there is any question that Schweitzer is liked by a lot of reporters, for reasons that have nothing to do with his politics. He's colorful; he spouts good quotes; he's spontaneous; he's confrontational; he sometimes calls reporters up to ask their opinions. When my mother died last fall, he called to offer his condolences. That sort of thing is all meat to a reporter.

But it doesn't follow from that that the media would go all out to lift Schweitzer over Brown. I have lots of respect for Brown and always enjoy talking to him. He always has struck me as honest, honorable and decent. I know some other reporters feel the same way, and I don't know of any who don't (although I admit I don't follow this stuff closely anymore).

Anyway, I happened to be interviewing Roy Brown this morning (see next week's Outpost) so I asked him about that. He said that generally, yes, he's been treated fairly by the Montana press and has no particular complaints. Obviously, there are lots of reasons why a candidate who has just launched a statewide campaign might not want to sound like a whiner about press coverage, but I suspect Brown was telling the truth and that he has, in fact, gotten fair coverage.

So I don't know what Kool-Aid What's Right in Montana has been drinking, and I'm equally mystified by his assertion today that the media had picked Hillary Clinton for coronation. I know even less about national politics than I do about statewide politics, and I know that the media's alleged pro-Clinton bias has been a popular theme on right-wing talk radio.

But I can't think why it would be true. By the accounts I've read, Clinton runs a tightly controlled campaign that is unlikely to endear her to reporters. She isn't a maverick, like Paul or McCain (in 2000) or a fresh face like Obama. Her politics are relentlessly mainstream. Why would the media choose her for coronation?

I didn't even think we had coronations in this country. We have elections, and reporters who cover elections like above all a good story. Obama's a good story. Huckabee's a good story. Paul, if he can raise his numbers, would be a good story. Clinton? Old news.

UPDATE: With respect to Hillary Clinton's press relations, see this.

11 comments:

Eric said...

Google up the words 'liberal' 'media' 'bias' and take a look - too much information to put in a blog comment.

David said...

Eric,
I did that and find nothing relevant. What do you mean?

Anonymous said...

I have never bought into the "liberal media" complaint. Frankly, I don't even know how to characterize Rush, Savage, etc. They certainly aren't "conservatives"--I think they are just guys who have figured out how to make money thru the airwaves.

Eric said...

I mean that the media in general gives far more favorable press coverage to liberal Democrats, and Democrats in general than they do to Republicans.

Just like the polls they produced showing Hillary with double-digit leads in Iowa the day before the caucus, in an obvious attempt to portray her as the inevitable candidate and sway the vote. The same day, another poll showed her neck and neck with Barack Hussein Obama.

Do you honestly think there are not those in the media who try to hype candidates? I know that in the blogosphere I certainly have a bias against liberals, but I admit it.

Just to make sure I was correct, about 5 minutes ago I went to some of the media watch websites, and it's spelled out clearly.

I don't need to be proven correct today, let's wait until the campaign season begins in earnest, and lets see the news coverage. How will they portray our mediocre-at-best Governor?

Time will tell.

David said...

Eric,
I didn't listen to much news the day before the caucuses, but I listened to radio all day long the day of the caucuses, for about 10 solid hours, and what I heard repeatedly was that polling was showing a late surge by Obama. Yes, even "liberal" NPR said that. Not once did I hear anybody mention a double-digit lead for Clinton.

In fact, I listened carefully to the news all day long trying to hear some of that famous liberal bias, and nearly all of the coverage sounded fair to me. If you don't count Sean Hannity, of course, who was wildly biased against all Democrats.

And when you insist on using Obama's middle name, while using the middle name of no other candidate, then you show something far worse than bias against liberals.

Mark T said...

Reporters write stories but don't assign beats or stories to be written nor do they decide what gets printed. Eric is convinced that reporters are all Democrats who want to see Democrats get elected, and that they write pro-Democrat stories that automatically go to print.

It's been my experience that editors and publishers are usually business-oriented conservatives - the business side of the news business comes to resemble the people who pay the bills - the advertisers. They are not extreme - they recognize two parties, but mostly they like conservative Republicans and conservative Democrats, and tolerate moderate Democrats, and despise liberals. So it follows that moderate Democrats come to play the part of liberals, and true liberals are written out of the script.

So it would make sense to me that the newspapers and networks would idolize Romney, tolerate Obama or Clinton, snub Edwards and totally ignore Dodd and Kucinich, especially in the critical phase when they are running name recognition polls and tagging "favorites".

It's interesting that Paul is raising hackles - he's been banned from debates in New Hampshire, just like Kucinich.

Todd said...

Why in good God's name would you bother to dissect Eric Coobs' opinions? You may as well go after Don Mellon or Wally George.

It seems that in order to be taken seriously, a blogger should have intellectual honesty, two words that are foreign to Coobs.

By playing ball in his sewer, you give him an air of legitimacy and an excuse to continue regurgitating whatever GOP e-briefs he receives from the drones at paranoidandingnorant.com.

You should know better, Mr. Crisp.

Ed Kemmick said...

Mark T: On most newspapers, the reporters do decide what stories to cover. Probably 80 percent of what's in the newspaper (and produced by employees of that newspaper) was not assigned, but rather selected by the reporter. This stands to reason, since reporters know what's going on on their beats, and most editors do not. By extension, the reporters also "decide" most of what will appear in the paper.

David said...

Todd,
No, Eric is a decent guy. I like him. His thinking gets muddled sometimes, but no way is he in Mellon's class.

Todd said...

David, I don't know too many racist xenophobes who are "decent guys." But I'll take your word for it. I'm sure a lot of people like David Duke too, even though his thinking may be a "little muddled."

Mark T said...

Ed: Now we get into the cultural aspect of the business, where if you sit there, you buy in. Most of you know better than to broach some subjects. You tend to be predictable and unoffensive to the conservative ownership. That's why you exist.

Example: When's the last time a Gazette reporter sat down and had a few beers at the labor temple? Or wrote a story on their struggles? It's just not done, and you know not to do it.

On the other hand, the Chamber of Commerce has its own business section.