After reading a number of out-of-town newspapers for a week, I caught up on a week's worth of the Intelligencer earlier today.
The contrast was stark -- most notably on national news coverage. I've always been bothered by the lack of national news in our local papers and consequently I use the internet and cable news to keep me informed. Reading out-of-town newspapers this past week reinforced how badly the locals cover national stories. It's not that there is an absence of national stories available -- the articles are there (see AP's Big Story, for examples) for the locals to use. My hunch is that cost is one of the major factors in limiting national news coverage -- more coverage would mean more pages. The front section of the Intelligencer usually has 6 to 8 pages. As its now published, if you subtract advertising and local stories, there's not much room left for national news.
Okay, that's a problem that most small-town newspapers face. What compounds it for local readers, however, is that the locals' conservative Republican biases often dictates their choices of which national news stories are featured. In the last week, I've read a lot about Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and how they have been reacting to events. Reading a week's worth of Intelligencers yielded, on the other hand, no stories, for example, dedicated to the charges of sexual harassment against Trump (or his response) and only two related stories -- both that mentioned senatorial candidate Rob Portman's decision to rescind his endorsement of Trump.
Local news biases also means that space for national news is limited. This morning's Intelligencer front page, for example, tells us "GOP Candidates Speak at Forum in Wheeling." Accompanied by a picture of Representative McKinley (required whenever his name is mentioned), the 1,000+ word article (long by Intelligencer standards) is simply a puff piece for the Republican Party. A thousand words knocks out one or two national stories.
Editorials. The anti-Clinton editorials were predictable -- my favorite was yesterday's "Key Allegation Definitely is True." Well, I guess that settles it -- I'm glad they've decided for us and, of course, they have no biases.
One additional thought -- with all of the anti-Clinton matter found in the local "newspapers" combined with their unwillingness to criticize Trump, isn't it about time that they endorsed him?
Endorsements. Speaking of endorsement, Saturday was endorsement day and to no one's surprise the Intelligencer endorsed Bill Cole for governor and Patrick Morrissey for attorney general. According to the Intelligencer Cole has brought "reform" and, if elected, he will bring "real progress." (Just like the "reform" and "real progress" that he brought to the state senate?) There's nothing new in the editorial and of course the Saturday Mike Myer column located next to it is a companion piece to the Cole endorsement.
And poor Attorney General Morrisey -- the second editorial tells us that he has been unfairly accused by his opponent, Democrat Doug Reynolds, of being "in league with unethical drug companies." Readers who depend solely upon Ogden Newspapers for their West Virginia news probably agree. On the other hand, readers who read non-Ogden newspapers or watch the CBS Evening News probably understand Reynolds point. The Intelligencer tells us, however, that this, along with other claims found in Reynolds' ads, "just isn't true."
Reynolds and his supporters are spending millions of dollars to bombard voters with that message.
It just isn’t true.
(Again, I'm glad that the truth of the matter has been settled.)
Yes, Reynolds is spending lots of money on his campaign. What the editorial doesn't mention is Morrisey's spending and the sources of his outside money. From the Charleston Gazette-Mail earlier this month:
Those records show that Morrisey now has raised more than $1 million for his campaign — most of which sits in reserve — and that Reynolds, a Huntington businessman who represents Wayne County in the West Virginia House of Delegates, has personally contributed the vast majority of his campaign’s $2 million through direct contributions or personal loans. He has contributed $1.5 million since the end of June.
That spending, however, continues to be dwarfed by the $3.4 million that RAGA, a national political organization, has given on Morrisey’s behalf. That outside spending, which totaled $2.3 million in September alone, has allowed Morrisey to save up more than $708,000 of the money that he has raised to this point.
Members of Morrisey’s campaign said they are glad to have the support of RAGA, which federal documents show is funded by drug companies, coal giant Murray Energy and prominent conservative donors, like Charles and David Koch.
(Note -- RAGA is the Republican Attorneys General Association)
The Intelligencer editorial concludes:
This is the very worst kind of politics. It is throwing money at a campaign intended to make voters believe that if something is repeated over and over again, it must be true — even if the record demonstrates it is not.
I find it interesting that the Intelligencer accuses the Reynolds campaign of repeating something over and over again to make it true. I think that's called "projection."
Gordon Gee Appreciation Day
On Sunday the News-Register celebrated its annual "Gordon Gee Appreciation Day." The day is usually marked by a long column by the West Virginia University president and at least one editorial telling us what a great job he's doing. This year, in addition to printing his presidential address, Mike Myer devoted four paragraphs of his Sunday column to him and the second editorial, "University a Role Model for Progress," praised his leadership.
Note -- the best "Gordon Gee Appreciation Day" was easily back in 2014 when Gee did a long interview with the News-Register as part of its Sunday Sitdown series. (See here.) The interview of the long-winded Gee came in around 4,000 words and the rumor was that anyone who actually read the entire interview could apply for CEUs from WVU.