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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Political stenography

I'm going to move right past Davegate and Obama's Olympics adventures -- stories that top the heap today as non-events. I'm even going to ignore the oxymoron of a controversy breaking out at at a "lighter" event when the sponsors literally could not let politics stop at the front door.

No, I want to focus one of the worst pieces of political stenography I've ever seen: the Globe's report on its editorial board meeting with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Capuano.

You know, the one with headline screamed across the top of Metro front: Capuano attacks front-runner Coakley.

No surprise that the current 8th District congressman, vying for the votes of diehard Kennedy supporters, launched into an attack on Martha Coakley's liberal bona fides. It's been clear from the get go that is the way Capuano will try to cobble together a plurality in a four-person field.

My issue is with Andrea Estes and the editors who allegedly exercise tight rein over their reporter charges. Where is the effort to challenge him on his assertions that "she's not a liberal."

Personally, I'd love to know where Capuano differs with Coakley -- and when I persisted in reading to the almost bitter end I found the public option and Afghanistan are areas I should explore.

On my own without help from the newspaper supposedly devoted to helping its diminishing stable of readers understand the personalities and issues of an historic election.

Reporters, particularly those who cover politics, love to declare they are equipped with BS detectors and that they hold politicians accountable. You sure couldn't prove it with this notebook dump.

Rather, the story is the classic example of the real major failing of political reporting -- the love of the horse race. Polls, attacks and gaffes have become the lifeblood of the business (and the reason I call myself a recovering political reporter.)

I suspect the interview included some discussion with Capuano on specific stands on issues that will face the next US Senator. They will be plopped into a chart and compared and contrasted with the stands of Coakley, Alan Khazei and Steve "Money Pags" Pagliuca.

But by then -- probably early December -- many voters will be turned off by the rhetoric, the allegations and the polls.

There's a chance to do some real journalism here. Let's hope the Boston newspapers don't blow it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought it was interesting that even though it is common knowledge that women candidate's biggest problem-especially in MA- is raising money- Yet when the first viable woman candidate for the U.S. Senate from MA blows the guys out of the water- press friendly Khazei gets front paged in the Globe?

It will be interesting to see how this plays since Khazei's BFF with Arianna, E.J.Dionne, Stangel from Time- lots of buds- These are personal friends- yet Dionne has already written a piece about the race-as if he were completely neutral-

Let's see how the media plays this one- hoping we can stay on top and keep them honest-

October 03, 2009 10:38 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I thought the race got off to a pretty intense start when Terry "Ka-Ching" Murray accused Capuano of sexism a couple days ago. Name-calling is fun, and consistency is for losers!
By the way, it was only a few years ago that nobody wanted to run for anything by calling themselves a "liberal"-"liberal" was what you called your opponents. Maybe we can finally retire the "progressive" euphemism. In any event, there will be plenty of time for Coakley herself to prove how liberal she is- if she wants to.

October 03, 2009 10:01 PM  

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