Why is the Press Ignoring Bustamante?
It's been all Arnold all the time in the national media, which unfortunately is to be expected. But California media has not been doing much better. Last weekend the Field Poll, which has a consistent record for accurate predictions, showed that Cruz Bustamante led Arnold among likely voters. This was before there was anything that could be described as a Bustamante campaign---no paid media, no endorsements, no speeches or statements after the announcement. You'd think that this would be a wakeup call, that the media should start taking the lieutenant governor seriously. No such luck.
The Sunday SF Chronicle news section was all over Arnold, and featured a photo of the stripper candidate pushing out her chest. But no Bustamante. Nothing. Or as they must be saying across the state, Nada.
It was the same story days later when Arnold had a press conference and then a media-ted meeting with advisers. The media was obsessed with the answers Arnold gave and didn't give. When was he going to give specifics on how he would solve California's problems, and especially balance its budget?
Meanwhile, Bustamante laid out a plan for dealing with the state budget. He gave specifics. He was largely ignored again. He maybe got a paragraph or two in a story on Gray Davis and his "from the heart" speech.
This week Bustamante got endorsements from some labor unions and from the California Democratic congressional delegation. Will this finally earn him some media credibility? Don't bet on it. The media would rather carp on the guy who won't give specifics than report on the guy who does. Gary Coleman has gotten more coverage than Bustamante.
Somewhere we heard or read a reporter saying that the media is re-learning how to cover campaigns. They're trying to figure out how people want them covered. So far their answer is to follow the celebrity. Cover it so that stories on news pages and news channels are indistinguishable from Entertainment Tonight. Forget any civic responsibility in framing the issues that will actually matter to the people of California at a time of crisis, the issues that the governor of California actually has to deal with, and reporting on what the candidates say about them. Talk about your harvest of shame.
If I'm a labor leader or a Latino leader I'm telling my people: Look, they're ignoring you again. They're ignoring what matters to your lives, they're ignoring the candidate who is willing to talk about taxing the rich more fairly and taxing wealthy businesses (and there are plenty of those) to do what government in a democracy is supposed to do. They're ignoring you. Get yours at the polls.
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