After watching Iowa Press this weekend, my question is, why do these seasoned reporters seem so clueless about the GOP in general and oblivious to the danger of GOP gerrymandering during redistricting? Please put your answers in the comments.
One thing I know is that the GOP is quick to apply bully pressure to the news media if they report something a certain way or publish something that is not in their party’s benefit. I have had personal experience with this when I was asked by a newspaper editor to make changes to a letter I submitted critical of a GOP state rep. because the paper didn’t want to hear from the GOP chair about it. I suspect it is even more true for the Des Moines press. That is no excuse.
You should be able to watch an episode of Iowa Press without wanting to yell at the TV. Republicans are allowed to come on the program and misrepresent and distort largely unchallenged. The Iowa Press reporters’ collective demeanor is welcoming, friendly and cajoling like come on in, have a cup of coffee. You’re at home with us. Their challenges are infrequent, respectfully put forward, and abandoned quickly. I’ve never seen them ask questions with an attitude or confrontational tone like they frequently use with Democrats.
For example on this week’s show I found it particularly appalling how they persisted in asking Zach Wahls no fewer than three follow-up questions, between Murphy and Henderson, challenging him as to why Democrats would be concerned about GOP gerrymandering – yes even snidely accusing Democrats and Wahls in particular of being guilty of playing chicken little. Let that sink in.
Have they ever talked to a Republican that way on the program? I can’t remember it if they have but I don’t watch every single program. So let me know if you’ve seen it. And please include a link. I’ll post it if you can find one.
On this program, Erin Murphy defended the honor of the GOP, who for once failed to do the wrong thing by declining to gerrymander, shocking most everyone – except for the Iowa Press reporters. After accusing Wahls and Democrats of playing “chicken little” Murphy wasn’t satisfied being schooled by Wahls once, but came back two more times with the same question and same result. Henderson tried a double-team but they were still no match for Wahls.
Sen. Wahls was clear it was because of public pressure from Iowans that Republicans passed on the opportunity to gerrymander. But the journalists were ready and delivered all of the GOP arguments. He had to remind these well-paid professionals that they were present when Republican senators Whitver and Grassley both declined to say they would not gerrymander. Wahls had to point out the unprecedented circumstances of the current redistricting process and educate them that we would have been in uncharted constitutional territory if it had gone to the amendment stage of the process.
Despite the hostile attitudes and behavior of the Iowa Press crew on display, I definitely recommend watching this masterful performance by Zach Wahls who nailed every question and likely made the questioner regret asking it.
It was a thing of beauty, like a Jen Psaki press briefing, accurately re-framing the issues and educating not just the interviewers but everyone watching. #Psakibomb