September 24, 2014

Media coverage is an interesting aspect of running for office.

Now that there has been some press coverage, it is time to look at the coverage and note examples of bias against the campaign.

Since there were two stories about gubernatorial debates in the last two days, let’s examine them and note the ‘fairness’. Don’t interpret this as a bad thing. Never forget there is bias for as well as bias against. Whereas it is more suited to my purpose, I will examine the negative bias, of course.

For materials, see Monday’s Providence Journal coverage is in the Political Notebook segment and Tuesday’s is in a front page story “Four debates suit nominees; some dismayed”. I am sure these articles are available on line from the Providence Journal website. I suggest you read them to understand this analysis.

Okay, let’s look at the coverage. While my candidacy for Governor was front page news for several days, why did the articles related to the debate schedules not reference my campaign? Am I being minimized or is there other possibilities?

Rule one is don’t be a conspiracy theorist. Rule two is don’t over-think. Sometimes the reporting is due to space, issue, or incompetence. The world is not always against you. Take all into consideration when making an analysis.

The issue of agreement of debates was occurring during my fight to stay on the ballot. It may be that the foundation of the story had its genesis then. Maybe. Still, once a validated candidate, good reporting would have had at least made an effort to contact me. Put that into the mix.

Both articles focused predictably on the two major party candidates, although there is clear understanding that I was in the race (through their headlines and the unscientific Journal poll). Okay, noted, move along.

Raimondo and Fung played a safe strategy by agreeing on a limited schedule, notably without consultation with my campaign. It is only logical that they both minimize debates. They have the most to lose in a debate with me. They are secured in their paid advertisement dollars — people be damned. It may be a good strategy in that they have so much to lose but have adequate funds to run last minute negative ads.

When the reporting on Monday completely ignored the Healey campaign, I wrote a brief email to the reporters noting that I had been invited to the Channel 12 debate, the Channel 6 debate, the State of the State debate, the League of Cities and Towns debate, and, based on the comments of Rappleye on Ten News Conference, the Channel 10 debate. This is where the issue gets interesting.

Ho hum, no big deal in being omitted from the Monday article. It happens, live with it.

This brings us to the Tuesday article. Clearly, with foreknowledge of the invitations to me inviting me to these debates by the sponsors, the article continued to minimize the Healey campaign (except giving it a nod along with the other independent candidates, who, to my knowledge were not invited to the debates).

What can one observe from these two news items? Well, it appears that these writers knew of the invitations from my email and wrote without acknowledgement of them, twice. Does this mean they intentionally minimized Healey?

It is probably reasonable to say ‘yes’, given that at the time of the second article, they were aware that I was invited to these debates.

Right? Wrong? A conspiracy? Intentional? Who knows. The answers will rest in Katherine and Randal, but who cares. The point is that there is evidence, albeit not conclusive, of a potential bias against the campaign. The idea is to watch for a continuation of such a trend instead of making it a huge issue lest it continue.

My point here is to note the bias and move on. Media coverage is not fair, but that is the field of battle you have chosen to enter. Harbor no hard feelings towards toward a reporter, just constantly be aware of the issue.

It should be noted that on its web site, Randal Edgar did write an e- story (not in the print edition, but there is a good argument that today’s paper is quite full of active news, a point I could easily understand) that clarified this matter and included my point prominently. Take from it what you wish.

LESSON FOURTEEN: NO ONE EVER GETS ENOUGH COVERAGE AND NO ONE EVER GETS THE COVERAGE THEY WANT. LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT. OBJECT WHEN YOU HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTION, OTHERWISE DO NOT BOTHER RAISING THE ISSUE.

COMPLAINING OVER FRIVOLOUS MATTERS DOES NOT HELP. IT SOURS THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE REPORTER. A GOOD REPORTER HAS A GREATER THAN NORMAL SENSE OF INDEPENDENCE AND IS FAR MORE OFFENDED BY CHALLENGE. UNLESS YOU HAVE A CLEAR ISSUE WITH DEMONSTRABLE EVIDENCE, DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR THEIR’S.

I used this illustration with Katherine Gregg and Randal Edgar because I feel they have a sense of their profession. They can play hardball and I am certain they will respond that this is not a personal or corporate bias, and, quite frankly, unless it continued, I would believe them.

Did I like the exclusion? Of course not. Would I have made it a hill to live or die on? Hardly. I set it forth here to illustrate a situation you most certainly will encounter.

The fourth estate is no less human that others. There is pride, ego, and the rest of emotion. It is somewhat suicidal to make the press the issue in that they hold the keys to the castle. Still, unless you want to act the role of the tamed shrew, avoid kissing rings unless it is part of your planned strategy.

Today’s strategy is to work on issues. With fewer debates, a good performance can be decisive. Coming to the debate without special interests to protect produces a wildcard effect. I don’t have to worry about offending or protecting my campaign funding sources. I don’t have to continue to play to the extremes. I can come to the debates with the interests of the people in mind.

Having rational and well founded solutions to the problems will put my opponents at a clear disadvantage. Their role will be to minimize me and ignore me as much as is plausible. Fewer debates give me less exposure and credibility and so the move on their part is somewhat expected. It is a low risk- high reward strategy. If the public is dissatisfied and makes it known, they simply agree to more debates, and in doing so, they can minimize the risk of my having a good performance at one. Every dog has its day. I would take that gamble if I were in their camps.

I am working diligently on several campaign issues and have been having difficulty in keeping up with my correspondence. I am attempting to answer all questions asked with a reasonably thought out response. This takes time and requires the patience of the person posing the question. Quite frankly, it is growing more and more difficult to stay current.

Since many of the questions are similar, and since those questions and answers are not being circulated, it is an effort that needed thought. As such, we tried to fashion a solution to this. I think we have one.

We will be introducing a new portal on our website. It is ‘ASK ME A QUESTION’. Anyone from the public will be able to ask a question related to politics and will get a response directly from the candidate. You can’t get more real than that. I look forward to a lively debate with the voting public. I will urge all to participate.

If the opponents will not debate issues with me, I am more than happy to answer to the people directly. This site will only work with people participating. Debate will clearly demonstrate my positions, as well as enlighten me as to positions that may well be better than my own. As such we can work together to address problems.

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