Yes, Virginia — the are “real” journalists still out there who’ll ask the tough questions, persist in questioning a public figure who tries not to give an answer after the figure has made an assertion elsewhere that he or she is trying to downplay, and is not doing a public relations spot but playing the traditional role of reporter as proxy for a readership/broadcast audience that wants certain answers. The reporter is 8News Nevada’s Nathan Baca, and the public figure is the Republican candidate for Senate Sharron Baca who in recent days has avoided reporters — unless you count softball Fox News appearances and the likes of Sean Hannity as more than partisan campaign commercial vehicles.
Wach it and judge for yourself (and we are sure everyone will view it through their own political prism.):
There is an interesting irony in this report. Angle is shown here appearing on Roger Hedgecock’s radio show. Hedgecock, who is now syndicated, made a national talk show name for himself when he filled in quite well for Rush Limbaugh.
But before that Hedgecock was former San Diego mayor (actually a moderate one) — and unlike Angle he was prepared to take on all news media questioners, looked them in the eye, give an answer and politely move on. How do I know this? Because I worked for the San Diego Union newspaper as a reporter when Hedgecock was mayor. And on several occasions I was sent out to interview him — on at least one occassion to get a quote for a story another reporter was working on that was not favorable to him.
Hedgecock didn’t run or try to cut the interview off. He answered the question, made his case — and as a result his quotation went into the story and the story wasn’t about Hedgcock avoiding a reporter who was working on a story. The story had Hedgecock’s response to something said in it which balanced the story.
Angle here shows a shocking lack of preparation for someone who is running for office. She should be prepared to answer all of these questions and not just reply that the reporter is spreading Harry Reid’s “lies.”
This underscores a fact: Angle here is a candidate who may use the “the media is against me” card and pick up some votes but by not definitively answering words on her website unanswered issues linger — as well as an image of a poorly prepared candidate on the run for anyone who isn’t connected to Fox News or a conservative talker’s radio or cable show.
Which means preaching to the choir. Not a great strategy in elections.
UPDATE: Angle came out better in the short interview she gave to newspaper reporters at that venue. But READ THE ACCOUNT and you’ll see that the theme of her avoiding the press gets int he way of her other messages — and the theme will continue the more she flees or refuses to lay questions to rest.
UPDATE II: Balloon Juice’s Mistermix also makes a good point:
Unlike the national reporters who have nothing to do but breathlessly repeat Palin’s latest tweet or Facebook emission, local reporters are busy reporting real news. Candidates need to work to get noticed, and they need to be available for interviews. There’s even a name that real (i.e., not Paul or Angle’s) political consultants use for getting on the local news: “free media”.
On TV, you can get minutes of free media (versus seconds of paid ads) night after night around election time. In the newspaper, free media gets front-page play that advertisers would kill for. Even a guy as well-funded as Harry Reid will no doubt be appearing all over the local TV and newspapers, because he can answer a simple question about issues listed on his website, and his campaign manager doesn’t call reporters “idiot” after an interview.
The kind of people who vote watch the local news. Staying on Fox and conservative talk radio is such a dead-end strategy that it doesn’t even pass the laugh test. At some point, the pundits who want to pretend that Angle is still a serious threat are going to wake up and figure that out.
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.