The Democratic Party of Arkansas had a big to-do in North Little Rock Friday night, pulling in an estimated 1,400 people for a big party fundraiser at Verizon Arena.
Why, all the stars were there: Gov. Mike Beebe! Sen. Blanche Lincoln! Sen. Mark Pryor! Attorney Gen. Dustin McDaniel! Bill Halter, champion of the Arkansas lottery! Blake Rutherford! Good for them. It sounds like it was highly successful and a great event.
And we KNOW it was a great event from this extraordinarily flattering Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (ADG) report by Capitol Bureau chief Seth Blomeley, (HEADLINE: “Democrats Slam GOP At Dinner”) prominently published on the front of the paper’s Arkansas section, and featuring two (2) photographs. In addition, the ADG has made available online dozens of photographs from the event. (You’ll need a subscription to read the full article—sorry.)
Now let’s look back: A month ago, Arkansas Republicans held a parallel event in Little Rock. Granted, it was much smaller, with only about 400 people on hand, but let’s face it, there aren’t nearly as many Republicans in Arkansas as Democrats, right? But anyway, there were a bunch of elected officials and candidates on hand, as well as keynote speaker Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who some say just might be a candidate for president one day.
I’ll bet that event got the same red-carpet treatment from the ADG and Blomeley, right?
Hm, not quite. In that case, the ADG just ran this wire story from the AP, which focused not on the event but on Pawlenty’s response to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s affair. (Remember that? It transfixed a nation for, uh, days! And then Michael Jackson died, and we were never the same.) I believe the ADG ran that piece inside the B section, with no photo.
I suppose it would be churlish to point out the egregious disparity in coverage of the two events, and who’d listen anyway, right?
But I’d be interested to hear the editorial decision-making that adjudges one to be “news” and the other to be “not-news.” Seems like either they’re both “news,” or they’re both “not-news,” if you boast of being a balanced, trusted, objective news source serving the community. (Having worked as a reporter and attended my fair share of events like this, I can tell you that they are typically “not-news,” because they are “pseudo-events,” but a newspaper generally has to cover them in case news breaks out.)
I don’t much go in for “liberal media bias” bellyaching from conservatives, because it’s boring and unconstructive, like whining about the weather. But if you are an Arkansas Republican candidate for office in 2010, I’d keep in mind that the state’s largest daily newspaper and its chief political reporter have done you a tremendous favor by laying down their standard, at an early point in the process, for how you and your Democratic opposition will be treated in the coming campaign season. Rest assured, you will not receive the same type of coverage. Plan accordingly.
It was truly a night to remember.