GENEVA, NY–As noted in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, “mainstream media have been criticized for celebratory coverage of Obama’s rise that has left [many] questions [about the president-elect] largely unanswered.” It appears that the “celebratory coverage” has infected the local media as much as the national press.
Case in point: President-elect Barack Obama narrowly lost Ontario County, New York, home of the Finger Lakes Times, in the 2008 presidential election. And at least two other counties in the paper’s service area (Yates and Wayne), went big for Republican John McCain. So one might think that the reporters and editors of the paper would put at least a little balance into their coverage of the upcoming inauguration.
However, a review of the Sunday (January 18th) Times shows nothing but praise for Obama and, in fact, more attacks on outgoing President Bush.
The several articles about the Obama inauguration covering Ontario, Wayne and Yates counties are all from the perpsective of local Obama supporters such as:
The daughter of a politically-connected local democrat who has tickets to the event;
A local doctor and her husband who worked to win Pennsylvania for Obama;
A viewing party sponsored by the Wayne County Democrat committee;
Nearly fifty college students who plan to attend the event after participating in a day of service.
As for Republicans, the paper’s only mention of the “opposition party” are negative.
One reporter has a lengthy interview is a Seneca Falls bus driver, devoted in large part to attacking the outgoing administration:
“Seeing him take the oath of office and hearing his inaugural speech will be the most important things for me,” she said. “That and knowing I won’t have to see George Bush as president anymore.”
“The past eight years have been a disaster,” she said, citing the Iraq invasion, the diminishing of America’s stature in the world and the lack of any significant accomplishments on major issues such as the environment, civil rights, energy and the economy.
A lifelong Democrat, the 62-year-old bus driver for the Seneca-Cayuga ARC said she can hardly contain her excitement.
“I teared up on Election Night, knowing that Obama had won. I was so happy then, and I’m sure I’ll tear up again Tuesday when he takes the oath. It’s an emotional thing to remember…”
Not content to bash the outgoing President’s policies, another article takes time to complain about his first inauguration’s weather:
Even though he’s a trumpeter, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Roussey isn’t one to toot his own horn. So, it’s been up to his parents to spread the word: Tuesday’s inauguration will be his fifth as a member of the U.S. Army Band ensemble Pershing’s Own.
Of the four he’s played at so far, he said the reasonably warm weather made both of Clinton’s more enjoyable. George W. Bush’s was particularly nasty, with a fine mist making it worse….
Oddly enough, none of the paper’s articles are from the typically pro-Democrat Times reporter Craig Fox.
Admittedly, a local newspaper is normally not the place for hard-hitting investigative journalism on national issues. However, if a newspaper is located in a Republican-leaning community, and devotes most of its Sunday coverage to a political event such as the inauguration, you might expect the journalists who work there to give at least some consideration to the other side.