Please help out on Kos. -Sam
Right now, I'm involved in a pretty intense research project that has me reading 50-100 articles about presidential candidates every day (I won't say this on Kos, but you BlueNCers know that it's for my major paper at Davidson). In my hundreds of Lexis Nexis searches for articles about the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary, I've come across an interesting trend in the coverage of the Edwards Campaign that will certainly be disturbing to many of the Edwards supporters on the site - by and large, the coverage has absolutely nothing to do with the campaign!
Obviously part of this is due to Elizabeth's announcement last month, which dominated an end-of-week news cycle, a Sunday news cycle, and a Monday news cycle (due to the 60 Minutes interview). But check out this wire story, picked up in today's Charlotte Observer and other NC news outlets:
RALEIGH, N.C. - Elizabeth Edwards says she is scared of the "rabid, rabid Republican" who owns property across the street from her Orange County home - and she doesn't want her kids going near the gun-toting neighbor.
Now, the press has taken time out to report real news - like the process stories last week that revoked Hillary's frontrunner crown - but now they're back on Edwards house stories (remember those?). And while I'm all for disabusing the American people of the notion that any person running for the presidential nomination of one of the two major parties lives like a normal person, this is getting crazy (though, to their credit, the Edwardses shop at Target, and Dodd and Biden are worth less than $2 million). Again, from the Edwardsfield-McCoy feud article:
Johnson, who has posted a "Go Rudy Giuliani 2008" sign on a fence just 100 feet from the entrance to the Edwards' driveway, has criticized Edwards for the scale of their nearby home. The property and home, which includes an indoor basketball court, an indoor handball court and an indoor pool, is valued at $5.3 million ...
"I thought he was supposed to be for the poor people," Johnson said. "But does he ever socialize with any poor people? He doesn't speak to me."
Well sir, I would suspect they don't speak to you because they have adorable small children and you have a lot of guns! Is that a story? I think not!
Is it that hard to do an article investigating the pros and cons of Universal Health Care instead of another article on Pandagate? Is it that hard to look at my former Senator's poverty plan, then call up Barbara Ehrenrich for some quotes supporting his domestic agenda and (perhaps) William Easterly for some quotes criticizing Edwards's highly optimistic agenda for global poverty?
And sure, you've got some of the same fluff going on for other candidates; Billary stories are always popular. Additionally, Edwards doesn't get the boost in stories that comes naturally from having floor votes and committee meetings. But the only time I've heard, for example, John connected to the Wal-Mart fight in traditional media was through the Penn & Teller show (and that wasn't a fair forum by any stretch of the imagination) ... oh wait, I forgot the PS3 story.
Edwards isn't my first choice, but he could be the nominee, and I happen to think that he's going to win provided nobody big drops in or drops out. But this crap is exactly what they did to Gore - turning foibles and half-truths into snowballs. While Elizabeth has been doing a great job with the press in spite of everything (and I'm sure she'll be just as sharp when the media starts asking harder questions, as they do, when Iowa approaches), the non-Elizabeth coverage (with notable exceptions) has been embarrassing.
On a more personal note, I put a temporary halt to the Edwards research last week while looking at stories in New Jersey. The last "Edwards artice" I read quoted a friend of mine after Edwards was linked to yet another tragedy:
John Edwards, then a North Carolina senator and a vice presidential candidate, grabbed Jason by the arm and asked him to pose for a photo with Edwards' children. Jason obliged, of course, wrapping his long arms around the family, and when Edwards tried to walk away, he grabbed the senator and held up a finger. He wanted his own photo. Edwards laughed.
The Jason in the story was Jason Ray, the UNC mascot tragically killed in New Jersey last month. It's a good story about Edwards ... and it's a tragic story, especially since it's about a man who was a friend to many of my young friends ... but it's yet another story (and I've seen them all, at this point) that puts tragedy before policy.
My solution is simple - if you are supporting a candidate at this point in the game (full disclosure: my ActBlue page tells all) - please make sure that the Democratic message (or their permutations of it) reaches the public. Send letters to the editor. Write Op-Eds. Do what you have to do every time a story doesn't tell the whole story. If the Republican stories stay the way they are (with John McCain's visits killing innocent Iraqis and Mitt Romney being too Mormon for America), there's no way we can lose.