I’ve been critical of Iowa Press. I just want them to be better because they have a key role to play informing the citizens of Iowa. In case you missed it the most recent edition of Iowa Press is definitely worth watching – for a change – (that’s an Al Franken podcast joke).
John Deeth and Ras Smith were the guests and shared differing views on what should happen with the Iowa caucuses. Both did a fantastic job, were articulate and made great points. This was not a polarized talkingpointfest like you frequently see on Iowa Press. This weekend’s program was packed with useful information for viewers. And not just about the caucuses.
That said, there is always at least one hostile or petty question from the panel for Democrats. This week two of them came from Brianne Pfannenstiel, chief political reporter for The Des Moines Register. We’ll award her this week’s prize for worst question for one that she posed of John Deeth: “So why should Democrats across the state kind of cave to what Johnson County believes is best?”
Where did that come from? That is the kind of question designed to… I give up I don’t know what it was designed to do but it wasn’t to elicit useful information for viewers. Nobody in the studio was arguing that the state should “cave” to the views of Johnson county. Deeth was invited on the program and introduced as an activist and a veteran caucus organizer from Iowa City. He was not holding himself out as a representative of the views of Democrats in Johnson county. In these dire times, is that the best question the Des Moines Register’s chief political reporter could come up with? Just because the guest is from Iowa City? Says a lot about why we are where we are today.
Pfannenstiel also carried water for the Republicans by asking Deeth for a response to a comment made by Iowa GOP chair Jeff Kaufmann. The comment was nothing more than a typical opportunistic political slam against Democrats of no value to anyone so I didn’t include it here. In Pfannenstiel’s defense, it would be hard to find a useful contribution from an Iowa Republican to include. If you’re really interested in Kaufmann’s political rhetoric go have a look in the transcript.
The two top pieces of information from the program: Deeth said the safest best way to make sure your vote gets counted is to vote early and in person. Don’t vote by mail unless you have no other option.
The other important information in the program for Iowans to know came from Ras Smith and is actually quite shocking. Kay Henderson asked Smith why he was leaving the legislature. Here’s what came next:
“I mentioned that I feel like politics are becoming more elitist. Think about this, for instance, we have folks who are buying new homes, moving to new districts to run for a job that pays $25,000 a year. We would likely have a dozen races that cost six figures, maybe half of those —
Henderson: For the legislature?
Smith: For the legislature. Maybe half of those will be over $500,000. Maybe one or two, maybe even three will come to a million dollars for a job that pays $25,000 a year.
That spells out corruption or at very least big money legally buying our state legislature. How is it that veteran Iowa political journalist Kay Henderson seemed unaware of this? Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was aware, maybe she just wanted to make sure viewers were clear that Smith was talking about state legislative races, not congress.
Will the Iowa press make an issue out of it or report on it further? Or will they continue to fixate on petty issues? I predict the Iowa press will continue to coddle Reynolds and the Republican party. But no one on the panel could credibly challenge what Smith said next.
When asked by Kay Henderson what he would be doing after retiring from the legislature this year Smith articulated what everyone knows but the press refuses to say.
“I’m going to continue.. buffering local governments from the impact of what I believe is a Governor who has it out for Iowa, who seems to be gutting our state from the inside out, who doesn’t seem to care about the people of the state anymore. And so for me I’m not running for the legislature — to rebuild local government so that we can withstand the assaults that we’re seeing from the legislature and hopefully getting out of there any day now.
Erin Murphy got the last word on the caucuses. Blog for Iowa has been saying this and posting about it for years. “I hear professor Dennis Goldford of Drake University in my head saying, first is only important because the media decided it was.”
Read the transcript of the program here