And another thing..
Monday I posted about last weekend’s edition of Iowa Press. Afterwards, I had to sort through some additional reactions to it. This program has been a staple on Iowa PBS for decades. It needs to modernize itself. Its only purpose now seems to be helping make Republicans seem invincible.
Erin Murphy and Dave Price in particular need to step up their game. Their commentary about the two Democratic candidates running for governor could hardly have been more negative and stale with no original thoughts to add – just the usual blah blah blah. The only positive thing they said about candidates Ras Smith and Deidre DeJear was that their fellow Democrats like and respect them which was then minimized and characterized as their “political bubble” and given no weight at all. Had they been talking about Republicans you can bet they would have gushed about these exciting new leaders! Up-and-comers in the party they would have said.
With Murphy, Price and Henderson, everything is presented through a conservative lens. On this edition Henderson stuck to asking the questions but here are Murphy and Price’s comments when the conversation turned to the Democratic primary for governor and candidates Deidre DeJear and Ras Smith.
[Italics and Bold are BFIA’s]
Price: “…which leaves Deidre DeJear and Ras Smith. Ras Smith from Waterloo, a Representative from up there [since 2017]. Deidre DeJear a businesswoman from Des Moines [an organizer for Barack Obama who ran for Secretary of State in 2018.].
Price: On the democratic side I think you’re still hearing the whispers about somebody else though, right? ….I’m not sure there are some in the party that are content with the field as it is right now, not necessarily an indictment on the two who are in there, but just still exploring options here. And I don’t know how you pick a favorite out of the two. DeJear has run for office before. [DeJear was the first African-American to be nominated by a major political party for a statewide office in Iowa. Was this not worth mentioning to viewers?]
Murphy: To that, I think that is an interesting aspect about this democratic field right now because I get that sense too that maybe they’re not totally thrilled about the completeness of this primary field. But on the other hand, who is left out there now that would make you feel any better? Rob Sand is ruled out, Cindy Axne is ruled out, Tom Vilsack isn’t walking through that door. I think there is a good chance that this is our field with maybe the exception of another name like Chris Hall you mentioned. The thing about Deidre DeJear and Ras Smith are they are both very popular and well-liked within democratic circles, I think a lot of democrats have a lot of respect for them, they’re just not well-known outside of their own kind of political bubbles and that will be the challenge taking on an incumbent. [Their popularity within Democratic circles and lack of name recognition is considered more important to relay to viewers than something about their qualifications or who they are as candidates. And would it have been so hard to have mentioned that these would be historic candidacies if successful? And what exactly did he mean by “own kind” of political bubbles?]
Is it subtle racism? The kind that white people do unconsciously? Or is it just lax, unprofessional political banter? I find it hard to imagine this level of discussion and rhetoric would be engaged in if the candidates were white.
– “not thrilled about the completeness of this primary field”
– “who is left out there now that would make you feel any better?” [followed by a list of white people]
– “still hearing the whispers about somebody else though, right?”
– “own kind” of political bubble
Price: And I think if they were sitting here they would be candid about this. [Oh for sure, no doubt they would characterize their candidacies in precisely the same negative way you did!] There is a lack of confidence in the party that 2022 is going to be a good year. [No thanks to the Iowa press for their shameless pandering to the GOP.] They’re looking at the polls thinking that Reynolds could be challenging to beat. They have to convince their donors to donate. DeJear just got Emily’s List involved so maybe that is going to open up a little out-of-state money perhaps. [Why not “in a show of strength” or good for her? ] But they have to show that they are and convince people that this is a race that is winnable, at least competitive, and that is a hurdle right now.”
The negativity and limited, cynical, one-sided frame they chose to present felt stifling, like why should I even bother getting involved. Maybe they had some points but they did not even try to get beyond the superficial horse race coverage that is of no use to most people and does nothing to engage or educate voters and in fact serves to alienate voters. The press is supposed to be a pillar of democracy. These folks are a pillar of the status quo.
When Kathy Obradovich chimed in it was finally a breath of fresh air. Murphy and Price made no effort whatsoever to say anything that could inspire viewers to take an interest or to consider voting. Obradovich offered a more positive message, not in a partisan way, but in a way that actually reflected and utilized her experience as a reporter and allowed her to say something both wise and inspirational. Rather than present everything as already lost which is how I felt after listening to the others, she provided a point of view that could serve as a beacon of hope. And hope is required now. As Henderson steered the conversation to Tom Vilsack who was 30 points behind Jim Ross Lightfoot for governor back in the day, Obradovich said this:
Obradovich: “Yeah, I mean, you just don’t count people out I think is the important thing. It’s a little different when you’re running against an incumbent and Tom Vilsack was running against Jim Ross Lightfoot who was a Congressman who was leaving Congress to run for Governor. So you can’t, it may not be a direct lesson, but you absolutely can’t count anybody out just because you think people across the state don’t know who they are.”
Read the transcript or watch the video of this edition here.