After a brief Twitter exchange with Providence Journal reporter Katherine Gregg, which began with the following tweet from her, I had mixed feelings:
When did it become ok for govt paid spox in RI to say: “No, not willing to even try to answer your question.”
As Twitter’s format necessitates and encourages, my response came with layers of insinuations, built around the suggestion that the paid spokesperson’s dismissal of the reporter might be a related phenomenon to the Providence Journal’s longstanding handling of outside opposition groups, like the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, as if they’re just part of the ol’ political game, while our left-wing counterparts are taken at their word about their motivation.
The Democrat Party has a lock on all statewide offices and all national representation of Rhode Island, and the legislature remains so tilted that the Republicans have about the sway as a loosely aligned caucus of independents. Yet, it’s crystal clear that most of the local news media, particularly the news department of the Providence Journal, agree with the general political philosophy of this ruling party. The question requiring a test during the Obama Era nationally and the Chafee-Raimondo Era in Rhode Island is the tolerance of those within the Democrat–labor-union–progressive–mainstream-media alliance for procedural and civic abuses by those in public offices.
Frankly, left-leaners who profess to be independent-minded aren’t doing very well on the test.
Consequently, those on the progressive-Democrat side feel secure in challenging the authority of the friendly media, and those on the conservative and/or Republican side feel they have nothing much to gain by reinforcing power that (they feel) the news media will only use against them. Is the news media going to reevaluate positive coverage of Democrat priorities and leave them politically vulnerable because of some spats about answering questions? Or will the outsiders be treated with any less credibility because they act on their sense that reporters are generally on the other side?
As it happens, today’s Political Scene, by Gregg and her fellow Providence Journal reporter Jennifer Bogdan provides some excellent fodder for illustration. A section detailing legislators’ travel activities as an example of the “more than a few perks” that come with election to office highlights trips taken by five Democrats (two taking two trips each) and one Republican, whose one trip was far from the most expensive. Who gets his photo popped into the story as the poster-boy for enjoying politicians’ perks? The Republican, naturally.
Meanwhile, the final section of Political Scene places a photo of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo under the header “Gains for women,” about Rhode Island’s “strides in increasing the number of women in elected office.” Particularly leading into a year that looks likely to have the problematic Hillary Clinton running for president as a Democrat, gender politics are mainly a tool of the Left. Should politicians worry that journalists would decline to lubricate this political weapon for Democrats if those in office are insufficiently conciliatory? Does the fact that Raimondo and Clinton have uteri ever become less significant than their bad behavior?
The mixed feelings that I mentioned above derive from the fact that I offer such comments not as attacks in a fit of pique, but in an attempt to provoke people into thinking about these dynamics. If some of us are right about the months and years to come, many people in the public eye are going to be defined by their priorities as the political field shifts in the near future.