Monday, September 01, 2008

A fair question

Nobody has asked, but here's a fair question: Would I be as critical of Brian Schweitzer as a vice presidential pick as I have been of Sarah Palin? After all, he has even less relevant experience than she does, and he governs a state of comparable size. If were on the Democratic ticket, Republicans would be trying to do to him exactly what Democrats are trying to do now to Palin.

I might as well be honest: I would not be as critical of Schweitzer. The fact that he has worked in Saudi Arabia would help some, but not much. It also would help that I don't think the vice presidential pick is as critical for Obama, who is young and healthy, as it is for McCain, who isn't.

But the main difference is that I know Schweitzer, both personally (to some extent) and as a governor (to some extent). I don't think he would be a great choice for vice president at this point in his career, but he is a quick study with a lot of energy and mostly mainstream political positions. He's also a big-picture kind of guy with good political instincts, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't screw things up too drastically if he had to step up to the big job in a pinch. I think most Montana journalists probably see Schweitzer that way, but Alaska journalists don't seem to feel the same way about Palin (see here, especially here, here and here). Also, it's hard to imagine Schweitzer saying anything quite this mind-numbingly dense.

Perhaps I would feel the same way about Palin if I knew her better. Perhaps I will feel that way by the time November rolls around. But I don't see it yet. As Ring Lardner (or possibly Damon Runyon) said, "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet."


Eric said...

It means you are sexist if you don't support Palin, and racist if you don't support Obama, so I guess I get to watch a liberal come face to face with his principles here David!

Either choice will give you absolution from the sin of being a white male......LOL

Dave Rye said...

Comparing the way Montana journalists think about Schweitzer to the way Alaskan journalists think about Palin is not an apples-to-apples situation. Journalists in every state generally like to think of themselves as knowledgeable and sophisticated. To them that means being socially liberal, which means usually voting Democratic. It also means harboring some quiet contempt (except when they're just among themselves, when they can be louder about it) for Middle America, and for what Middle America refers to as "traditional values," as represented by Republicans such as Sarah Palin. If she excites the conservative base, then the sophisticated types figure there must be plenty wrong with her. I mean, she appeals to all those yahoos, right?

Journalists are suspicious of her because she really means it, whereas Schweitzer's huntin' and fishin' and cowboyin' (including the calf-ropin' commercial during which real cowboys tell me he damned near clothes-lines his horse) are just bones thrown to swing voters who are instinctively conservative but don't think about it a lot and might be persuaded that a Democrat could actually be a traditionalist.

Figuratively speaking, Palin looks you in the eye and waits for you to blink first. Schweitzer winks and the media folks ("folks," not "people" if you're an effective politician) wink back.

Chuck Rightmire said...

Dave: Where have you been? Despite all your years in the Montana media you really don't seem to see your colleagues very clearly. I would guess that many of those who actually control what gets in the air and in the newspapers are not liberal at all after almost 50 years of observing and working among them. You sure weren't. I don't believe you're former station KTVQ2 to go back a long way is today. And from what I've been seeing on the national scene I don't see a lot of "journalists" who seem to have an opinion that isn't to the right such as those of Faux news. Just because the right thinks reporting the truth is false because it doesn't fit its preconceived views doesn't make it so.

Dave Rye said...

Chuck, my former station for two decades was KULR-8, not KTVQ. My only Q-2 connections have been as a very non-political traffic reporter on "Montana This Morning," which I still do occasionally when the regular guy wants a vacation.

My observations about the personal political feelings of most reporters come partly from my having often been a minority of one in the newsrooms where I worked. I like to believe that it was a happier era in which the liberal majority, and I believe my privately conservative self, kept it straight down the middle in our reporting despite our personal biases. So did the networks back then, or at least they gave that impression. Now they don't.

Local print people play it straight on local stories, as I believe you did as well during your Gazette days. But look at what's on the front page above the fold in today's Gazette, which tells you something about an editor's judgment: "Palin's Image as Outsider Questioned." Read the story and you'll see no questioner or accuser quoted. The one doing the questioning and the implied accusing is the non-bylined AP person who wrote it.

Nice objectivity, guys.

Chuck Rightmire said...

Sorry, Dave, I guess it's Halfzeimer. I was sure you had been with 2 before going to 8. I used to watch on on TV and thought you were a bit or more to the right, but your reporting seemed much fairer than youir opposition. However, I stiill say that a large number of the broadcasters and news writers I watch and read will be voting like you and Addison Bragg for McBush and Sara Agnewlin. I fully expect Katie Couric and Ed Kemmick to be in that number. What really bothers me is that people are unable to understand the use of words on Faux news to either praise or downgrade someone. I don't hear a lot of that in the mainstream media. But I do hear it everytime (few) that I listen to talk radio. What the main problem is, I feel, is not that mainstream news is particularly slanted, but that the truth is rejected (like evolution) if it doesn't agree with previous perceptions. Thus, we got eight years of Bush and now the Republicans are offering us another four years of the same.

Jay Larry Lundeen said...

While you forgive and defend Obama for his questionable associations and lack of experience you are inventing or exaggerating Palin's "faults." You are not alone. In fact, the death of objective journalism will be a sad testament to this election cycle. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, et al are surprised, bemused and bewildered by accurate accusations of bias. CNN's Lou Dobbs is the only "news" person that seems to be grounded in common sense and objectivity. And he casts a cold eye on both McCain and Obama. As do I and many other reasonable Americans who find present-day partisan rhetoric a poor substitute for leadership that will actually better America. Apparently the really smart boys and girls picked a less heinous career path.