Media Complicity in Governor’s Sexism and Political Silencers


Sometimes it’s difficult not to feel as if one is living in a different world from those in power, which for my present purposes includes the Rhode Island news media.

Today’s Providence Journal Political Scene, for example, proclaims that “the Smith Hill gun debate has literally swept every other issue aside.”  First, abstractions like debates and issues can’t “literally” sweep anything.  Second, if anything has “literally swept” other issues aside, it was the wind storm.  And third, this hasn’t been a passive sweeping; the local news media has (figuratively) swept other things aside to raise the profile of this issue.  A few women stand outside the State House with signs?  The Projo covers it.  A handful of local students take a field trip to the State House related to this issue?  The Projo covers it.  The governor puts her daughter on the political stage, and the news media covers it.  Legislators and some activists fill a small area of the State House for a photo op, and all of the news outlets run with “State House packed.”

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Another example that stands out in the past week is Revival Brewing Company’s refusal to serve people whom somebody else had libeled as white supremacists.  Not a single mainstream reporter thought this was news worthy, even for Ian Donnis’s and Ted Nesi’s end-of-week roundups for Rhode Island Public Radio and WPRI, respectively.  Roundups are meant to present relatively minor, but interesting, stories, and this incident didn’t even amount to that.  It’s difficult not to conclude that Rhode Island’s journalists approve of using accusations of racism to shut down political groups… on one side of the political divide.  You can bet that if some business refused to serve Mike Araujo’s group because of his demonstrated racism, it would quickly become the biggest story in Rhode Island.

And finally, the example that I found most surreal, if relatively minor in significance, is the news media’s outright promotion of Progressive Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s annual sexist girls-only contest.  Here’s a typical example from WPRI.  That’s not news.  It’s a free promotional ad for a politician.  If it were news, reporters might note that the contest is controversial in some quarters and seems to contradict the idea of tolerance and equal treatment of everybody, regardless of sex.  If reporters were actually interested in differing perspectives, they might actually come across the observation that the governor is discriminating against a demographic that dominates in suicides and overdoses in a dynamic at the center of the school shooting phenomenon.

Of course, that might shed an uncomfortable light on the gun control debate with which they sweep all else aside.