White House all wet taking Herald out of pool
Obama’s tabloid snub causes problems for the Globe
Did anyone with even a passing knowledge of Boston politics and media not know what the front page of the Herald would look like today after the White House made a point that the paper’s perceived slant is not appreciated when doling out pool reporting assignments?
As national media came calling for a quote, Herald Editor in Chief Joe Sciacca declared the newspaper will not be cowed by The Man.
“We will always fight for fair access to presidential visits and other important events and we will not be intimidated by attempts to affect our news decisions,” Sciacca, a longtime political reporter, columnist, and editor for the Herald said in a statement.
As much as it was journalistic manna from heaven for the tabloid (“Critics: Obama’s media snub ‘troubling’”; “Prez swimming in shallow end of pool”; “Obama, how Nixonian”), the fact their editorial leanings were cited as a factor also creates some headaches for the Globe by implication and perception.
The email from White House communications staffer Matt Lehrich to the Herald’s Hilary Chabot made clear that the newspaper’s decision to play an oped from Mitt Romney on page 1 when Obama last visited was not forgotten by the increasingly thin-skinned administration.
“I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters,” wrote Lehrich, an Arlington native and, more telling, nephew of top Obama political advisor David Axelrod.
Memo to Lehrich: That’s what tabloids do. Take a look any day of the week at the New York tabloids or Philadelphia or Los Angeles. They are headline-driven and the stories that give the best headlines are often culled from opinion pieces, which is why Howie Carr and Margery Egan often lead the paper. Someone should school young Mr. Lehrich.
As Dan Kennedy points out at Media Nation, Lehrich apparently never paid attention to Boston political history and the guiding principle of Southie ward boss legend Martin Lomasney, who said, “Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.” That has been updated by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who added “Never put anything in an email.”Of course politicians, local to international, grant access to those they deem can give them the best play in the best light. It’s human nature. And as long as there’s plausible denial, there’s not much that can be said or done about it. But commit it to paper (or in this case, Internet) and your problems compound exponentially.
What it also says, by implication, is the Globe “writes things the way we prefer” and that presents a perception problem. Is it true? No, not on the news side. But that won’t stop the red meat crowd or even fence-straddlers who want to believe in media bias. Editor Marty Baron did not return a call for comment but it might have behooved the paper to at least protest the reason given for the exclusion of its rival.