Thursday, June 23, 2005
Old Fashioned Fight Between Big Bill And Big Newspaper; A Memorable NM Media Week; Our Exclusive Analysis, Plus: Hamburger Heaven, Part Two
Journal Publisher T.H. Lang
An old fashioned war broke out between the Guv and the state's largest newspaper Wednesday with the ABQ Journal screaming across its front page: "Gov.'s Jet Leaves Kids Hanging" and the Guv replying with a news release screaming back: "Newspaper Report Wrong." The question of the moment: Will blind kids at a state school be denied plane trips home because of Big Bill's purchase of a $5.5 million jet? Without getting into the merits of whose right and whose wrong--both sides stretched this one--let's look at the more important issue, the significant change in tone in the media when it comes to New Mexico's premier political figure.
"There's been a turnaround in the Journal's approach to the governor. They have hit him several weeks in a a row in their Sunday edition. They questioned money spent for his ABQ office, another on the number of exempt employees he has hired and hits over the plane purchase and his speeding. I say a turnaround because the first couple of years Bill received some of the softest press of any governor I have ever seen," analyzed a Senior Alligator who goes back to the old days.
It's hard to argue with his thesis. The investigative approach to Big Bill has also escalated at the TV stations which are thriving on the speeding and plane incidents. "A lot of this is simply because they see he is indeed running for president. The media will build you up one day and tear you down another. When they see one of the crabs trying to get out of the barrel, it triggers the attack impulse," commented our Alligator.
Still, there's no denying that the Guv has given the press the ammo to rake him over the coals. And why is that? "There's been no effective opposition against this governor. He is used to getting what he wants and he has a big appetite for power.
The biggest mistake the Republican party has made is not having a candidate ready who could benefit from all this controversy. Unfortunately for them, the newspaper is not on the ballot," mused our politico who has no ax to grind against anyone.
PRESSURE ON THE PRESS?
My media insiders theorize that the press here may be under scrutiny outside the state for being too marshmallow in their coverage. "Our papers are going to be read widely as the presidential campaign progresses. There's a question of pride for the locals who do not want to seem feeble when the editors in New York and Washington look at their stuff," speculated one of our media mavens.
"Because the Guv has hired so many reporters and put them on his PR team throughout government, an event that has not gone unnoticed nationally, the pressure to show independence is there.
"It was pretty strange to se the governor consolidate all this power in his first couple of years and get no grief from the Journal or the other papers. But that kind of coverage rarely lasts because it's lazy and its boring. Newspapers need readers and its controversy that gets them, not stenography," bristled our onetime news scribe for a local outlet.
So, will there be a winner in this new war? "I think the smart thing is for the governor to let things cool down. An ongoing war with the papers, like Governor Anaya had, is not going to serve him well. Obviously, he feels shafted and wants to let them have it back. He's done that. Now it's time to retreat and reassess," suggested our Senior Gator. Of course, that assumes Big Bill does not give the ink stained wretches any more ammo to fire.
Back on that other thorny issue the Guv's spin doctors are saddled with-- gubernatorial speeding. The ABQ Tribune explains the special treatment the cops are devising when it comes to monitoring the Guv's car travel. I get the feeling this is another one we haven't heard the last of.
What's really important to you politicos is great food. Whenever I blog about it heavy email follows. Yesterday we posted GQ magazine's version of the best twenty hamburgers in the USA. New Mexico got two mentions: The Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe and the Buckhorn Cafe at San Antonio which is across the street from the world famous Owl Cafe.
Debbie Olguin liked the article, but noticed the Bob Cat photo we used and decided to send the Buckhorn photo we posted today. The Democrat Olguin family (former State House Majority Leader Michael Olguin is part of the clan) have owned the Buckhorn forever. Rowena Baca, prominent NM Republican, is the proud owner of the Owl. If there was an election over who has the best burger it would end up in the Electoral College. You could do worse on a summer Saturday night than to find yourself in either the Owl or the Buckhorn.
How's that for nonbiased blogging? Hey, I've been doing this a while. Thanks for your company today. Let's get together again soon.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
Not for reproduction without permission of the author