You already know this but maybe you'd like to forward this story to your grandmother. (See comments for my apology to grandparents!)
If you want to know what's going on, don't rely on newspapers or network news as your primary sources of information. That's what you have to take away from Howard Kurtz's media column in today's Washington Post, in which he chronicles the old media's failure to report on the hugely important Massachusetts special election until it was nearly a fait accompli.
Here's what the NYT wrote about the race in December:
"Now poised to become the first female senator from Massachusetts, Ms. Coakley, 56, is seen as a highly disciplined, if not passionate, politician who rarely surprises or missteps." A companion piece on her opponent, a state senator, said that "for Mr. Brown, it is an uphill race to victory in January."According to Kurtz, they didn't start to pay real attention until January 8th, followed by the snoozing or deliberately inattentive Washington Post (Jan. 11) and LA Times (Jan. 14). Even slower to cover this enormous story were the networks:
The network newscasts were a step farther behind. ABC's "World News" reported Jan. 15 that Coakley was in a tight contest. The "CBS Evening News" and "NBC Nightly News" aired reports on Sunday, Jan. 17 -- the day that President Obama campaigned for Coakley, and two days before the election. (In fairness, the Haiti tragedy was overshadowing domestic politics.)But what's the Boston Globe's excuse? Like Coakley, the paper's statehouse bureau chief went on vacation:
Frank Phillips, the Globe's statehouse bureau chief, says he missed the last few days of the campaign by taking a personal trip with his wife that he finalized a couple of weeks earlier. "I made a decision at Christmas that this was not going to be an important race, others could handle it, I could be out of town," Phillips says.But by December 30, there was a clue that something was happening. The Globe reported it but didn't put it together the way some bloggers did.
But he says Brown was going nowhere earlier in the campaign: "What would you have written? 'Things were heating up'? Things weren't heating up. It would be unfair to say we had missed it, because it wasn't there."
As if to offer extra proof of the old media letting us down, Kurtz himself makes no mention of who filled in the news gap: conservative bloggers, who were all over not only the Brown surge, but his chances for success early on. On Dec. 9, Jumping in Pools noted Coakley's weakness and saw a Brown victory as a possibility. On the same day, William Jacobson told us to watch the Massachusetts senate race, which he continued to do with an unwavering focus. A sample:
12/29/09: GOP Abandons Scott Brown, But We're Not
1/2/10: Martha Coakley's Political House On Fire
1/4/10: Coakley Glances at Her Watch - For Six Days
1/5/10: Earthquake Rumblings In MA
Et cetera. Michelle Malkin reported on the heavy SEIU involvement for Coakley on Dec. 17 and wrote about his shot at victory from at least Jan. 3rd on. Kudos, and apologies, to the many unnamed bloggers who hammered away at the Brown-Coakley story, doing the job that mainstream journalism has abandoned.
*Updated to add link: Chuck Todd on the tea party movement
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