Media Log: R.I.P.
It is with great sadness that we all say goodbye to Dan Kennedy's Media Log blog which he wrote for the Boston Phoenix. Dan will be heading to academia, teaching journalism at Northeastern University, at the end of the summer. Dan's last post is here: ["The Last Post"]. Our loss, however, will be his journalism students' gain. And, as Kennedy says in the post, there may be a personal blog coming together soon at his site, dankennedy.net.
Over the years, Dan has been good to me on his blog and his features about Boston talk radio for the Phoenix. We've never met, but he appeared on my radio talk show in Boston a couple of times. The first time was to face off with me on whether or not independent candidates should be covered by the media.
At the time, Kennedy was temporarily covering some political races for the Phoenix, watching the 1996 Senate race between Democratic incumbent John Kerry and then-Gov. William Weld, a Republican, and the 10th Congressional District open seat featuring then-Quincy D.A. Bill Delahunt and Republican Ed Teague. In both races, there were third candidates: Susan Gallagher, running as an independent under the Conservative Party moniker for the Senate seat, and a friend of mine, Charles Laws, who was running for the seat as a Green Party member [Laws would later mount unsuccessful races for Congress and Governor as a Green in Nevada where his wife's parents live].
Both Laws and Gallagher appeared on my show a number of times, and in my mind, were credible candidates. Gallagher showed on a whole host of issues, Kerry and Weld were pretty much the same. A close analysis of their positions on trade, abortion, immigration, the Peso bailout, globalism, media consolidation, financials, welfare reform, and so much more, showed that Gallagher's comments rang true. This gave her credibility as a candidate because she was clearly offering a different choice to voters. The 1996 race was more about minutiae than any other race I have ever seen, with most people just voting based on the candidates' labels. Kerry even admitted in one of the last debates that he believed Gallagher should have been allowed to debate [This could be taken two ways: As a shining moment for Kerry, showing true concern for fairness, in an otherwise pretty abysmal political career, or, as a politically calculating shameless plug and attempt to get a conservative on TV so she could shave votes from Weld. Later on, Kerry and the Democrats showed us what they thought about liberal independents who want to run outside of the box by their reprehensible treatment of Ralph Nader and others during election cycles]. Laws - a former engineer, veteran, and small business owner with a wealth of knowledge and ideas - blew away the presentations of both Delahunt and Teague over and over again. Hardly a socialist like some Greens, Laws approached issues from the viewpoint of commonsense. Again, like Gallagher, Laws was offering the voters a different choice and should have been covered.
So, why weren't these two interesting candidates being covered? Because they ran outside the two-party system and showed the flaws in said system and the media elites who control the news didn't want voters then - or now - to think beyond the two-party structure which they can so easily manipulate and control. It made too much sense to cover Gallagher and Laws, never mind that they both gathered thousands of signatures with a handful of volunteers ... it might turn into anarchy or something if you gave them coverage!
Anyhow, while on my show, Kennedy, if I recall correctly, said the independents shouldn't be covered because they wouldn't make a difference and they couldn't win, the usual talking points on independent candidates. But the difference between Kennedy and other writers is that he was a good sport; he actually took a pretty good swath of criticism from me and even admitted that politics wasn't his strongest front and later, IMHO, showed improvement in his political writings by growing as a journalist, as we all try to do. He didn't take offense that someone was critical of him, like so many others: he worked harder. That is a testament of a true journalist.
As well, from that point on, Dan gave me a lot of credibility in many of his writings.
In the end, on the 1996 elections, Kennedy was somewhat right: Gallagher wasn't a factor in the race, receiving 4 percent of the vote and Weld lost to Kerry by much more than that. And neither was Laws, who also received 4 percent in a race where Teague was killed by Delahunt. But the fact that these candidates may not win isn't the point. Weld didn't win and neither did Teague. In fact, Teague never even had a chance of winning despite the population growth of moderates and conservatives on the South Shore and Cape, and despite the fact that he was a member of the state's second major party. His chances were barely much better than Laws in reality.
Unfortunately, for all of their work, criss-crossing the state in Gallagher's case, and campaigning around the 10th for Laws, who had to ferry in from Martha's Vineyard to attend events, they were both completely - and wrongly - ignored. Indie candidates proceeding 1996 have also shown that the press is completely ignorant when it comes to covering politics, and in actuality, perpetuate much of the brainwashing that goes on in the political game.
So there is a bit of history.
However, the larger point is that Kennedy will be missed and not just because he occasionally promoted me and Politizine. He will be missed because he was a great media critic, caught a lot of good stuff over the years, exposed it to the public, and made all of us much better at finding fault in the media. This, in turn, helped those of us in the media who read his stories or blog entries become better journalists. And now he will bring that skill into the classroom at Northeastern.
Here are a bunch of links I haven't had time to publish but I feel like clearing out my favorites box so here they are:
* Howie Carr at the Ford Hall Forum? Yup, it actually happened: ["Fish out of water"].
* Is Robert Novak Schizophrenic? May: ["No Romney in 2008?"] June: ["Make no mistake, Mitt’s run has begun, but can a Mormon be elected President?"].
* Ralph Nader makes another great point: ["Hemp for Victory"].
* Billy Graham, a Hillary fan? Read the fine print and say, Oh no!: ["Clinton Honors Graham at Final Revival"].
* Christians: "Free" trade hurts the poor: ["The Cost of 'Free Trade' To Africa's Poor: $272 Billion "]
* China wants oil ... and they are willing to pay billions to control it: ["Chinese Oil Company Offers $18.5 Billion for Unocal"].
* Is it time to Freecycle? You be the judge: ["Freecycle"].
* Live 8 Concerts on TV: ["MTV, VHI to Show Much of Live 8 Concert"].
* Dems reveal Ohio problems: ["Democrats find 2004 voting problems in Ohio"]. Here is the full report: [http://www.democrats.org/vri/ohioreport/]. But, maybe these voting machine problems aren't really the problem, as noted here: ["Why the Democrats Will Keep Losing"].
* No surprise: Wisconsin Dems want Feingold to run in 2008: ["Favorite Son Feingold Wins Pres. Preference"]. Feingold has a new fund too: ["Progressive Patriots Fund"]
* Changing our money ... to make it stand for Liberty: ["The Liberty Dollar Bill"].
* Drip, drip, drip ... ["Last Days"].
* MyDD: The pleasant Daily Kos alternative: [MyDD.com].
* Zeese interviews Frank: ["What the Left Must Learn from 2004"]. BTW, Joshua Frank's new book, "Left Out: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush," is a must read.
* Former Bush Administration official calls the collapse of the World Trade Towers "bogus" and suggests it was a controlled demolition: ["UPI Hears..."]. The entire column written by Morgan Reynolds is here: ["Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse?"].
* Boston Herald whacks veteran reporters, staff: ["Amid cuts, Herald loses newsroom veterans"]. As a former "made member of the Purcell clan" - via CNC, this is so sad to watch. The Herald used to be such a hot paper and now it is just a filthy tab. It is so, so sad.
* Dems want Dean to go off: ["Democratic leaders back Dean, don't want 'wimp'"].
* Greens continue to lose credibility: ["Santa Monica City Council member leaves party"].
* But here is another Green that is intriguing: ["Elect Gloria"].