Gimme a D! (for Democrat) - August 15, 2003

Times Watch for August 15, 2003

Gimme a D! (for Democrat)

James Daos Thursday report from Louisville tries to pump up the Democratic candidates prospects in Kentuckys upcoming governors race by casting it as Round One of Campaign 2004.

Kentucky Race Is Test For Bush on Economy-Democrat Ties Troubles to G.O.P. Policies is a strange, unconvincing story whose only apparent reason for being is to lift Democratic spirits, with reporter Dao leading the cheers.

Dao opens by suggesting the race, featuring Democratic attorney general Ben Chandler squaring off against Republican Rep. Ernie Fletcher, could be a harbinger of bad tidings for Bush: Improbable as it sounds, the first major test of President Bush's vulnerability on the weak economy may come this November in a state that he won handily in 2000, where his favorable ratings are still high and where Republicans hold seven of eight Congressional seats. No one said Kentucky politics was predictable. With a tenacity that has surprised his opponent and some supporters, the Democratic candidate for governor, Attorney General Ben Chandler, has attacked Mr. Bush's stewardship of the economy, contending that Republican policies have drained Kentucky of 56,000 jobs, aided the wealthy at the expense of the poor and helped drill a gaping hole in the state budget.

Dao goes on to suggest this tenacity is having an effect, though his evidence is weak: Mr. Chandler's assault seems to have put Mr. Fletcher on the defensive. In campaign events, he acknowledges that Kentucky's economy is struggling and that job creation should be among the new governor's top priorities.

But just because Fletcher says Kentuckys economy is struggling doesnt necessarily mean hes on the defensive (one of the Times favorite phrases to apply to Republicans. After all, the sitting governor, scandal-plagued Paul Patton, is a Democrat, and a lagging economy would reflects poorly on him as well as Bush.

Dao continues: If Mr. Chandler, considered the underdog, can ride voters' anxieties about unemployment to victory, it could give the Democrats momentum in their seemingly uphill quest to unseat the president, Democrats and political analysts assert.

And if wishes were horses then dreamers would ride: A local Kentucky TV poll shows Republican Fletcher up 48%-43% in a state a Republican hasnt won in 32 years. Thats not much cause for Democratic optimism, no matter how zealously Dao spins it.

For the rest of James Daos story on the Kentucky governors race, click here.

Times Liberalism, By the Book

Chapter 3 of Journalistic Fraud, Bob Kohns excellent and detailed new book on how the Times slants the news, examines the time-honored techniques the paper employs. Conveniently, a textbook example of what Kohn discusses appears on the front of Thursdays Times.

The headline on Michael Janofskys story introducing Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt, Bushs new nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, uses criticism from liberal environmentalists to put him on the defensive: Nominee For EPA Defends His Job As Utah Governor-Rebutting Criticism, He Says Condition of Air, Water and Land Has Improved.

Janofskys lead sentence follows the same slanted path: Gov. Michael O. Leavitt today defended his environmental record in Utah against critics of his nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, saying that under his stewardship, the quality of air, water and public lands in Utah had indisputably improved.

The loaded, critical comments continue: With Democrats promising to make his confirmation hearings a proxy fight against environmental policies of the Bush administration that began under Christie Whitman, Mr. Bush's first E.P.A. chief who resigned under pressure in May, Mr. Leavitt said he was bracing for new rounds of criticism by groups that contend he is far too conservative, and too friendly to business interests, to serve as the nation's top environmental steward.

Things were rather different, to say the least, when President Clinton picked Carol Browner as his EPA nominee back in 1992. The headline to the first big piece on Browner was considerably less confrontational: New Breed of Ecologist to Lead E.P.A.

Keith Schneiders led with a treacly anecdote about Browner as a little girl: When she was growing up, Carol M. Browner spent hours hiking in the Everglades and once stayed home from school to finish a watercolor of an anhinga, a graceful and increasingly rare water bird that alighted in the pond outside her family's home in South Miami. Isnt that precious? Note that Browner wasnt forced in the headline, the first sentence (or anywhere else) to defend her record or respond to critics. Thats only for Republican nominees.

For the rest of Michael Janofskys story on Bushs new EPA nominee, click here.

Environment | EPA | Michael Janofsky | Bob Kohn | Michael Leavitt