Remember how I said if Gray Sasser thought Democrats could make inroads in the 1st District, he must have a bad map? Well, I still believe that – but I also think it’s important for you to know who helps keep the roads in this portion of the state painted a bright shade of red.
The following is allegedly an email exchange between a local reader and Kingsport Times-News political reporter Hank Hayes. (You can read the original in comments.)
—- Original Message —–
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2008 3:46 PM
Subject: Where is the Democratic point of view?
I have been reading quite a bit about the Republican candidates’ views and have read and re-read the articles in the Times-News, as I feel this election is very important. I am wondering, though, where is the Democratic perspective and why aren’t Democratic candidates being interviewed concerning these matters, or cited when they speak at events? WBIR-TV did a 30 minute show and 2 Democratic candidates, Rob Russell and Michael Donihe, and one Republican, Michael Saabri showed up, but Roe and Davis were no-shows. I found no mention of this in the paper.
Contrary to the rhetoric around these parts, there are quite a few Democrats, and we do deserve to hear points of view that are not necessarily Republican. One would almost say that the Democratic point of view is being ignored on purpose. It is kind of like 2006, when David Davis arrogantly refused to debate his Democratic opponent. What was he afraid of?
From: Hank Hayes
Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2008 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: Where is the Democratic point of view?
Thank you for the feedback.
And thank you for reading the T-N.
I tell people, both Republicans and Democrats, that “For me to cover your campaign, there has to be one.” It makes people mad, but that’s the way I feel.
Neither of the Democratic candidates in this 1st Congressional District race have ever called me.
I don’t think either of them filed a financial disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission. That suggests they have raised no money to run a campaign. And I have seen nothing to suggest that the Tennessee Democratic Party is supporting them.
If a candidate is not going to actively raise money, put together an organization and be out there trying to attract attention, do you think they deserve coverage?
There were about 12 Republicans seeking the nomination in 2006, and I covered about 5-6 of them. I did cover Rick Trent because he worked.
My feeling is just because their name is on the ballot, that doesn’t entitle them to coverage.
I’m interested in contenders – serious candidates – and not pretenders.
First of all, I’d just like to say – I told you so! I told you so! Hank Hayes is so Republican he knows the secret handshake! Big David Davis support too, I’ll bet.
Next, I’d like to say – in Hank’s defense – at least he did respond. I recently emailed WJHL and Tri-Cities.com to inquire if Democratic candidates would also receive three-minute segments as was recently offered to the three Republican candidates. I have received no reply as of yet.
But that’s about all I can say in Hank’s defense.
Here are the questions folks, particularly for those of you in the business: What entitles a candidate to press coverage? Should amount of coverage correlate to amount of money raised for the campaign? So, how much money do candidates need before they get a mention? Should there be a formula for this – like if you raise over $10,000, we’ll print your name twice?
Should politicians be required to call reporters and beg for coverage? I understand you can’t cover everyone who files to run, but Russell HAS been making the rounds, attending rallies and party meetings (in Sullivan County no less) and talking with people across the district. If Hank would read something other than his own Republobabble or the GOP press releases in his inbox, he might know this. And he can’t make the argument that he doesn’t cover political rallies or fundraising events because that wouldn’t be true.
I mean if we’re just talking about candidates taking the initiative here: what about the press releases Russell’s campaign sends out which are never acknowledged? Hayes certainly doesn’t waste any time publishing Davis or Roe’s communications with the press. Is that fair?
Are readers getting balanced coverage?
What else separates contenders from pretenders? Well, Hank also points out the Tennessee Democratic Party isn’t sounding the drum of support here? And when have they ever? The state party has never spent a great deal of time, energy, money or other resources trying to win over what they’ve long since considered a lost cause. Hank isn’t a ninny: he knows this.
So, what’s left? Hank’s feelings? Coverage depends on how Hank feels about your campaign.
As far as I’m concerned if Russell has been running hard enough to be considered a serious candidate by voters in this neck of the woods, this makes him newsworthy. And none of the reasons Hank listed justify his absolute willingness to hold the GOP paintbrush.
Therefore, I say – Bad Hank! Bad! Shame on you! Flackery will get you nowhere. (Unless you’re Bill Hobbs and have enough guts to make those very outrageous Hobbsian-type statement which I wouldn’t recommend because normal people get fired for those things… or you’re playin’ this like Thaddeus and your feelings can be bought.)
Of course, Hank has time to make journalistic amends. Russell is scheduled to speak at the Sullivan County Democrats summer fundraising picnic on July 12 at the boardwalk in Bluff City with real voters who are voting for the real serious candidate – none of those pretend voters who plan on voting for pretend candidates on pretend ballots.
What do you say, Hank? How about you cover the non-republican event and make one mention of of the non-Republican candidate before the election? I’m sure Ron and the other Republican boys will understand you’re just doing your job and they’ll still let you be in their club… providing you can remember the secret handshake.