Saturday, July 30, 2005

Fair and Balanced

"My level of concern about losing
this seat before the announcement
was zero and it remains zero."

Ron Nehring - Republican Hack

A recent "news" article in the San Diego Union Tribune purports to discuss the political ramifications of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's decision to not seek reelection in 2006. Of course, Cunningham may be spending all of his time in court or even jail by 2006, so not seeking reelection is probably not a bad idea.

What is a bad idea is "news" about the potential challengers for Cunningham's seat that virtually ignores an announced Democratic candidate, Francine Busby, and instead concentrates exclusively on which Republican will be allowed to fill the seat. UT reporter, John Marelius, makes a single passing reference to Busby in an article filled with quotes from Republican operatives.

Marelius gives the floor to Republican County Chairman, Ron Nehring, whose statement appears as the headline above. Nehring obviously has the appropriate Republican political credentials, but Nehring's relationship to
San Diego politics is pretty thin. Nehring is a national operative, whose background includes running Republican campaigns in HIS HOME STATE OF NEW YORK. Nehring is a Republican "true believer" with little local credibility, so he gets a prime quote in the article, while no one from the Democratic Party or Busby campaign gets a chance to present any rebuttal.

But, Nehring isn't the only Republican partisan quoted by Marelius in his article. For proof that Cunningham's district has a "Republicans Only" sign posted at its borders, Marelius turns to the academic world and gets a quote from Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. Pitney proclaims that Busby is doomed.

Marelius does note in his introduction of Pitney that he was "a one-time Republican congressional aide." What he fails to point out is that one of the congressmen Pitney aided was Dick Cheney. Nor does Marelius note that Pitney is, in his own words, "a former staffer for GOP attack strategist Lee Atwater."

Marelius also share the insight of Allan Hoffenblum, who also predicts that no Democrat can win in Cunningham's district.

"It is a solid Republican district and the one who wins the primary has the seat as long as he or she wants it, barring political scandal."

In Hoffenblum's case Marelius doesn't even bother to give us an idea of his potential bias. But, there is a bias. Hoffenblum is the owner of "Allan Hoffenblum & Associates, a Republican political consulting firm based in
Los Angeles."

So.....let's look at scorecard here.

Contention - No Democrat can win this seat. The Republicans can trot out any candidate they want and still win.

Arguing for this contention - The Republican County Chairman, a former Dick Cheney aide and a Republican political consultant.

Marelius does lean heavily on one other source in his article. UCSD political science professor, Gary Jacobson, an expert on congressional politics. Jacobson is pessimistic about Busby's chances as well, but at least he concedes that Busby is "a perfectly respectable candidate." Yet, he concludes that, "she's just in the wrong district."

Of course, that is likely to be the same conclusion he would make concerning Democrat Paul Hackett's quest for the congressional seat from the 2nd District in
Ohio. No Democrat has garnered over 30% of the vote in that district in recent memory. Recent polls put Hackett within 5% of his Republican opponent and he has momentum going into Tuesday's special election.

Republican arrogance and corruption are key issues in
Ohio and they are painfully big issues in Cunningham's district. Marelius started from the perspective, provided him by Republican operatives, that a Democrat can't win in Cunningham's district no matter what issues are involved. He interviewed only those who, by party affiliation, conformed to that point of view and didn't bother to delve into other potential outcomes.

How does the myth of the liberal media persist?