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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, April 17, 2010

Parachute journalism

David Broder is the dean of political journalism, the man who set the example of using shoe leather instead of telephones to get the story. But sometimes even a little shoe leather isn't enough to tell the whole story.

Broder visited Boston this week
to size up the governor's race on the eve of the Republican state convention in Worcester. And surprise of surprises, after his short visit, we have a race that has deep nuances re-framed as a simplistic story of Scott Brown Redux.

The national media missed the story of Brown victory over Martha Coakley even more than its local counterparts. They weren't here so they could not see how Brown worked while Coakley snoozed.

So hoping to make up for lost time, they immediately branded it as a victory for the Tea Party and a rebuke of Barack Obama's health care effort. And despite all efforts to suggest otherwise, that's their story and they are sticking to it.

Broder got many of the facts about the governor's race right: Baker is no Brown because he supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage (though he misses Baker's flirtation with the anti-climate change crowd.)

But as is always the case with parachute journalism, Broder missed the nuance. He lumped Tim Cahill with Christy Mihos -- even though Mihos may be gone by sundown and Cahill's bizarre moves (and campaign war chest) could keep him around until November.

Broder also ignores the larger context: Republicans controlled the Corner Office for 16 of the last 20 years. They've been scarce in the Legislature, and that's where a major story has played out as Democratic leaders have sparred with the current Democratic incumbent and might, just might be happy to see a Republican back in the governor's chair.

And because he's missed that context, he's also missed the undertone of successes that Deval Patrick has accomplished either in partnership or battle with lawmakers -- and which he is finally starting to articulate after months of silence.

Most of all, Broder failed to notice the substantial fund-raising advantage Baker has enjoyed to date and allowed the challenger to portray himself as the underdog in spite of polls that show a tight race and where conventional wisdom, at least to date, makes Baker the favorite.

Broder concludes a Baker victory "would signal that Brown's upset win was not a fluke." Hardly.

I'd define a fluke as when a Republican claims a seat held by Democrats for 47 years, not when they reclaim one they held for almost two decades.

That would be true if the dean of Washington journalism had spent more than a short time on the ground in the real world.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

well done

April 17, 2010 6:13 PM  

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