Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Newspaper Candidate

John McCain is playing an ad now, exclusively touting newspaper positions, but not just endorsements -- he's also including along with them, published negative positions about his chief opponent at this point, Mitt Romney. The most notable negative in the later category was a polemic published by the Concord Monitor.

Lest anyone have any doubt about bias at that paper, if you are here in New Hampshire and follow the paper's coverage, even briefly, you know which way it leans.

For example, the Monitor's coverage on Saturday morning gave coverage and reaction to the results of Iowa on the front page, but with the bulk of primary election news on their section B State & Local page. The coverage consisted of a few longer stories on how the candidates were reacting to their various placings in the caucuses, and a few postings about events that would be on the schedule of the candidates for the weekend. They call that feature Campaign Watch.

The Monitor stories on that page were almost all about Democrats -- one each about Edwards, Huckabee, Obama, Clinton, and one on the curiosity of the foreign press about the New Hampshire in general, and the war in particular. There were a total of four photos on the page,the largest featuring Barack Obama ot a rally with an enthusiastic crowd as the backdrop, then a friendly shot of Hillary having a good laugh with a 91 year old gal from Goffstown, and, finally, two small head shots, one of John Edwards and one of Dennis Kucinick.

That was it.

The shorter blurbs -- Saturday left side bar stories, which the paper dubs Trail Mix were, in order, about John Edwards, John Edwards (again) and Dennis Kucinich.

In the Campaign Watch feature posting presidential events, the listed the following appearances: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John and Elizabeth Edwards, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama, John McCain, John McCain and finally, a tiny note that Mitt Romney would be holding a post-debate (ABC) rally at Varick's Sports Bar on Depot Street in Manchester.

So, we took a little trip down to Varick's last night, and here are a few shots from the event to share, ones you will not see in the Monitor. They didn't cover the event at all, even shopping for comments as a part of the wrap-up on the debate today, though we do know they knew about it.

They do, however, cover other "light touch" topics, such as: Hillary and Chelsea Clintons' bus ride with four undecided young voters, mostly spent discussing the merits of being a vegetarian; and a lengthy staff-written piece on their blog about how John McCain doesn't drink as much coffee as he used to!

Mitt had his spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom read a statement of initial reaction to the debate by nationally-known political pundit Dick Morris, who reluctantly admitted that Mitt had won last night's debate. Eric was reading the statement from his Blackberry.

In addition to announcing his victory in the Wyoming Primary, where Mitt picked up 8 of 12 delegates, he expressed confidence about his performance in the debate, and said that the focus of the debate played to his strengths. In a sense, it is a shame that Ron Paul will not participate in the Fox News Channel debate at 8 pm tonight, at St. Anselm College. In a way, Paul was the perfect foil for the others, and especially Mitt last night. One of his strongest moments involved explaining to the Congressman the importance of confronting the global jihad.

Ann and Mitt both talked about how during the debate he used the technique of focusing on one person in the audience to speak to. Mitt, of course, said he knew he was doing well during the debate, as kept looking at Ann, and she would smile and give him a big thumbs up.

The Concord Monitor's coverage on Sunday (today) was no better, almost to the point of pettyness. For example, because of the unique circumstances of the two debates being held one after another last night, both the Republican and Democrat candidates all met briefly on the stage and exchanged pleasantries between the two debates. The Monitor managed to find a photo -- no doubt among several they took -- that managed to block out Mitt Romney from the photo all together. On the inside, they selected a shot of the Republican candidates that managed to catch Mitt with his mouth open.

Well, it's their paper. But Senator McCain knows full well what their bias is.

Then too, the polls right at this point are showing an interesting development. If they are to believed (it consisted of a relatively small sampling) Hillary and Obama are now in a dead heat, and McCain with a lead just outside the margin of error. Independents can opt to vote in the primaries either way, with McCain, Obama and even Edwards all plugging hard for those voters. To the extent that McCain is tacking left to try to attract those votes, he may turn off Republican voters.

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