Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tell Me Again How the Media is Liberal?

I'm out of town for a couple days (and in a hotter, moister part of the country - blech) so I couldn't make it to any of the many political events this weekend. But it sounds like it was quite a weekend. NH-02 Progressive is enthusiastic about Paul Hodes' performance at the event with Mark Warner - sounds like Keener's falling in love with Hodes in much the same way I am.

But that event dueled with a similar Republican event, and news coverage is instructive. The Union Leader, of course, offers a primer on how to slant your coverage to the right. It's not a surprise that they'd do so, but it's worth looking at how, and at how that contrasts with coverage from the Concord Monitor.

Keener estimated the crowd at the Democratic event at 200+; the Monitor at "several hundred." The Union Leader's estimate? "About 100 people." Even by downplaying Democratic attendance, though, they couldn't erase a significant size difference - they estimated attendance at the Republican event at "about 40 GOP faithful." I guess that, lacking quantity, they decided to give the appearance of quality - people at a Democratic event are...people, who have congregated in a place for some reason, we're not sure just what; people at a Republican event are faithful. (The Monitor gives a similar estimated attendance: "dozens.")

The Union Leader's coverage of the Democrats focuses most on former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, to the exclusion of Paul Hodes and Governor Lynch, neither of whom are mentioned until the story's final two paragraphs. This provides the illusion of balance - "look, we focused on Democrats as much as on Republicans!" - without deigning to give more than a sentence of coverage to anyone who's actually, you know, running for office this year.

Charlie Bass, meanwhile, gets to speak for himself:

"We as Republicans have a lot to celebrate with 13 or 14 straight quarters of economic growth, low unemployment and an economy that is going well," Bass said.

He noted there have not been any terrorists attacks since Sept. 11. "That is real leadership," Bass noted. "Democracy is not a natural thing. We have to nurture and maintain it."

(Ok, quick break from media critique here. That's the best he can do? "Sure, 9/11 happened on our watch but nothing just exactly like that has happened since. Iraq? Something's happening in Iraq? Well, it's not terrorism, so it doesn't matter how many people die because we just said we were stopping terrorism." And "We have to nurture and maintain [democracy]"??? How exactly are you doing that, Charlie? Wiretapping? Gitmo? Abu Ghraib? The Plame leak? I hope nobody's thinking of putting you in charge of nurturing any puppies, because nobody likes to see a starved puppy. And let's not even get started on the economy.)

The Monitor, by contrast, treats the better-attended event as genuine news and gives Hodes a spot at the table:

Hodes started his speech jovially, asking his wife, Peggo, to help the guests sing "Happy Birthday" to former President Bill Clinton, who turned 60 yesterday. Then he grew serious, criticizing Bass's support for President Bush, whom Hodes called an "emperor" and "imperial." He called for developing frugal ways to provide better social services and withdrawing from Iraq.

"We've got to get our people out of that civil war now," he said.

Democrats, he said, must do a better job of challenging Bush.

"A spine is a terrible thing to waste," he said. "And I'm bringing my backbone with me."

Yet, and this is the crucial thing, they don't blow Bass off. I see no reason to give any more coverage to his BS claims just now, but the Monitor does what the Union Leader barely even pretends to: It actually covers both events, both candidates, both speeches. And they could, you know? They could say "well, there were well over twice as many people at the Democratic event; it's clear that one is a bigger story than the other."

Just a little note on the "liberal media."


Blogger Keener said...

I think the 100 people was for the Merrimack event, Warner did like three or 4 events that day, and Hodes was at at least the two.

I think though that that multiplies your point. Warner and Hodes ripped through the state talking to crowds of hundreds, Bass wandered down to a Republican picnic of 40.

Warner also hit the Keene Farmer's market with Molly Kelly, and gave a heavy endorsement in Stoddard to Hodes after Hodes delivered his blistering speech, with Warner saying the their themes are the same: a fair shake for the little guy, and a presidency that solves problems by moving us forward, not back.

I didn't hear them announce that the Union Leader was attending the Stoddard event. They must have skipped it. There was press from a bunch of other places, including I think a radio station from California.

Maybe 5 outlets were mentioned?

It's a shame they didn't cover the Stoddard event, because here's the real story, which I think Warner brought up -- everybody says the Dems don't know what they stand for, yet everyone who spoke and everyone we talked to seemed very united on what the Democratic Party needs to address. It felt to me like a very united party on the stuff that matters.

Hopefully when DW gets time to put the edited video together we can post it, and people can see what an extraordinary event this was. They even had a letter of support from former Republican Governor Peterson...

10:24 PM  
Blogger MissLaura said...

The two articles are on the same event, so the difference in their crowd estimates holds. And yeah, if there were multiple Democratic events that size on the same day, that definitely says something.

5:06 AM  
Blogger kid oakland said...

kid oakland checking in.

Just wanted you to know that Blue Granite is coming though fine now on this end. Whatever you did...worked.


6:54 AM  
Blogger Keener said...

You're kidding! I didn't read you post carefully enough.

My God, they went from Stoddard's 200+, to several hundred (according to the Monitor) at the Merrimack County event, and they were still other events besides that...

And Bass brought out 40 people and gets the face time in the article?

What the frack?

OK, now you've got me riled.....

2:40 PM  
Blogger Jerome said...

Good to hear the events went well in NH. hodes is on track to win, along with a tidal wave of other Democrats in New Hampshire.

11:40 PM  

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