The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Media -- Dont Quote Me  |  News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  This Just In

Pardon us

How the Mass media failed voters in 2006  
By ADAM REILLY  |  November 2, 2006


This year’s Massachusetts governor’s race was fraught with significance. On the Democratic side, we had Deval Patrick, an outsider with Bill Clinton’s communication skills and Howard Dean’s affinity for Web-driven grassroots organizing. If Patrick wins on November 7, he’ll be the first black governor in Massachusetts history and the second elected in the US. The GOP countered with Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, an inexperienced but fabulously wealthy candidate who vowed early allegiance to moderate Republicanism. If Healey wins next week, she’ll be our first elected female governor. Add the teetering national balance between Democrats and Republicans, throw in the potential implications for outgoing Republican governor Mitt Romney’s presidential hopes, and the stage was set for reams of incisive, thought-provoking political reportage.

But what stories ended up defining the race? Here’s my short list: Patrick’s reluctance to admit his ties to (perhaps wrongly) convicted rapist Ben LaGuer. Healey’s foolish, fear-mongering ad about LaGuer and Patrick. The revelation (from a still-unknown source) that Patrick’s sister was raped by her husband, Bernard Sigh, years ago in California, and that Sigh, who reconciled with his wife and now lives in Massachusetts, never registered as a sex offender.

Now let’s try a different question: without going to Patrick and Healey’s Web sites, what’s at the top of each candidate’s to-do list if he or she wins on November 7?

Well . . . Healey wants to finish cutting the income tax to five percent per the electorate’s 1998 vote. But I can’t tell you why Healey thinks she could pull this off when Republican governors Mitt Romney and Paul Cellucci couldn’t, or how much money Massachusetts would lose if she did, or how the rollback would be reflected in a Healey-administration budget. She’d also add charter schools, apparently, and get tough on illegal immigrants and sex offenders, somehow.

As for Patrick, who’s got a fat lead in the polls and seems certain to win, I know he says he’ll cut property taxes instead of the income tax, and spiff up roads and bridges. Apparently he’ll cut property taxes by beefing up local aid, theoretically. And he’ll fund those local-aid hikes and road and bridge improvements by raiding the state’s budget surplus — unless the surplus vanishes, in which case he’ll get the money somewhere else, maybe. Patrick also says we need to fix the funding mechanism for charter schools, which has some flaw I don’t fully understand.

It’s embarrassing to be this half-assed after covering the governor’s race for almost two years. My consolation, such as it is, is that I’m not the only member of the press who’s frustrated by his or her grasp of key public-policy issues — or who thinks that, collectively, we may have let Massachusetts down.
One reporter I spoke with recently rattled off a slew of key topics — taxes, the MCAS, charter schools, the funding mechanism for local aid — and offered this disheartening assessment: “The problem is, I feel like I don’t understand any more about any of these issues than I did before the whole thing started. No one has made any sense of these things. That’s our job, and I don’t think we’ve done it.”

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |   next >
Related: Reversal of fortune, Shadow of a doubt, The Dems are coming, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney, Joe Sciacca,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article
Pardon us
"Ultimately, it all boils down to one simple question: is it really the media’s job to decide what subjects are worthy of discussion?" It is sad that you should even ask. It is the primary responsibility of the press to ensure that the electorate is aware of all relevant issues so they may cast an informed vote. Shying from or avoiding some issues because they are embarrassing negates the very reason for your existence. There is nothing more elemental to the governance of a state than the integrity of its legal system. When Massachusetts has a demonstrably corrupt legal system incapable of coping with its own corruption and the press avoids the obvious, it has utterly failed in its primary mission. I expect this willful oversight will be remedied by the out-of-state press when they cover Mitt Romney's run for the presidency and his willful failure to address the corruption of the legal system in Massachusetts. It will also be a marvelous opportunity for the guru of civil rights to show the voters his true mettle.
By Krogy on 11/06/2006 at 12:23:57

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LATTER DAY TAINT  |  October 10, 2009
    Fifteen years ago, Glenn Beck was a small-market DJ with a drinking problem, no friends, and bleak professional prospects. Today, he’s a Fox News superstar averaging 2.4 million viewers, an inexorably successful author, and the leader of a popular movement that condemns government in general and President Barack Obama in particular.
  •   PHILADELPHIA STORY  |  October 01, 2009
    The local-media story line of the moment is the push by Stephen Taylor — Milton resident, Yale media lecturer, and former Boston Globe executive VP — to recapture the paper his family ran for more than a century, a goal he's pursuing with the backing of (among others) his cousin Benjamin Taylor, the former Globe publisher.
  •   MENINO'S JUNKED MAIL  |  September 16, 2009
    Two years ago, when I wrote a column griping about the Boston media's apathy-inducing disinterest in city politics, Boston Globe metro editor Brian McGrory told me his paper had given the lackluster 2007 elections as much coverage as they deserved, but hinted that things would be different in 2009.
  •   BLOWHARD, INTERRUPTED  |  September 11, 2009
    Former Red Sox great Curt Schilling isn't the only prospective US Senate candidate agonizing over whether to run for Ted Kennedy's old seat. But unlike some of his potential rivals the Bloody Socked One seems determined to share his Hamlet act with the biggest possible audience.
    Last week, during an appearance on the Washington, DC–based Diane Rehm Show on NPR, Ted Kennedy biographer Edward Klein suggested that if Kennedy could witness his own funeral he'd probably crack a joke.

 See all articles by: ADAM REILLY

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group