Thursday, December 05, 2013

On The Media Beat; Contrast In Coverage Of Martinez Administration Examined In Wake Of National Journal Article, Plus: Big Bill's Christmas Gift 

Let's head out to the media beat this brisk New Mexico Thursday....

The contrast in media coverage of the Martinez administration as we are perch on the doorstep of Campaign '14 was driven home this week.

The Santa Fe New Mexican came with a report on that early battle between State Senator and Dem Guv hopeful Howie Morales and Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey. The lead read like this:

Two gubernatorial candidates are using the state Inspection of Public Records Act to bludgeon each other. Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City, a Democrat running for governor, and Gov. Martinez’s political consultant, Jay McCleskey, have filed formal public records requests seeking each other’s emails and other public information.

A McCleskey/Martinez political operative has already attacked the New Mexican for alleged bias in its early campaign coverage, but it's not an opinion that we're hearing shared by objective observers.

Longtime journalist Sherry Robinson writing for the New Mexico News Service also surfaced with some follow-up to that explosive National Journal portrayal of McCleskey and Martinez. Here's her take as seen in the Carlsbad Current Argus and other papers:

My Way or the Highway shouldn't be confused with leadership. Even the governor's friends wonder why she keeps McCleskey so close, and her enemies wonder who's running the show. Her male spokesmen have called the questioning sexist. As a card-carrying feminist, I can assure you it's not sexist. Former Gov. Bill Richardson, the man Martinez loves to hate, had no such person around. Neither did Gary Johnson or Bruce King. Martinez has angrily responded that, of course, she's in the driver's seat. That's the heart of the matter. The very fact that she has to reassure the public that she's in charge tells us there are doubts. It's not a problem a female leader wants to have. A question I've had all along is, who is Susana Martinez? What we see is the Eliza Doolittle created by McCleskey, who takes credit for discovering her. Can we meet the real Susana Martinez?

We do differ with Sherry's assertion that the power and control McCleskey has exercised over the administration is well-known. Up until now it has been only well-known among the political community. The only in-depth coverage it has received is on this blog and some references in the Santa Fe Reporter. The public at large has been in the dark. But that's now changing.

There has been no electronic media coverage of the relationship outlined in the National Journal and only sparse mention of it in the newspapers. We can think of only one story from the ABQ Journal  that examined the issue in the past three years. That's the one in which private political consultant McCleskey was dubbed "The Fifth Floor." But there was no follow-up in the coming years as to what that meant in terms of state policy and/or official government actions.


And about the ABQ Journal. While the New Mexican and columnist Robinson were keying off that National Journal piece and reaction to it, the Journal was reporting:

Gov. Martinez and her recent partnership with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was featured on the cover of a Republican insider magazine that touted the pair as “role models” for the GOP to win over Hispanic voters. That conclusion was featured in the “Ripon Forum,” a quarterly magazine of the Washington-based Ripon Society. The group is directed by an advisory board that includes about 60 current Republican members of Congress.

A "Republican insider magazine" is showcased, but nothing more on the National Journal piece?

Because of coverage like that the Journal has been subjected to increasing criticism among the political classes who believe Martinez is being sheltered and protected by the Journal. This blog reader is an example, He gave us a copy of a letter he sent to the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters:

Is there any chance you can free some staff to do a little research on a state example of the impact of media bias and blackout? Please see Daniel Libit's story in the National Journal. Very little meaningful coverage of this has been present in the primary New Mexico newspaper or from the three network news stations. The only consistent source of information about this element of the state's gubernatorial administration has been on the blog NM Politics with Joe Monahan.

. . . At a time when a very poor and economically challenged state needs vision and leadership, we face eight years of "win at all costs" partisanship that serves only those with influence, power, and wealth.


Big Bill is in ABQ for a rare appearance. He's promoting his new book--"How To Sweet-Talk A Shark: Strategies and Stories From A Master Negotiator."

He will be at Bookworks in ABQ's North Valley at 7 p.m. tonight.

Bill's book will make a good Xmas gift for his fans and a handy dartboard for his foes.

As for Bill's Christmas, he's already received his gift. It was that National Journal piece unmasking his rival Susana Martinez. We're sure he's giving many thanks to Santa Claus for that one.

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