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Smart Talk, May 29


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Big media underrated Huck


From the April newsletter of FAIR, the media watchdog group: “The Big Surprise on Super Tuesday, according to corporate media, was Mike Huckabee's strong showing in Southern states. … Actually, though, Huckabee did about as well as one would have predicted; he was running close to Mitt Romney in national polls, and he had come in a close second to John McCain in South Carolina just 10 days before Super Tuesday. But campaign reporters had essentially written Huckabee out of the story, treating him with disdain when they deigned to mention him: The Washington Post described him as ‘desperate to stay relevant in this contest.' Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC accused Huckabee of stealing votes from Mitt Romney, and asked, ‘Why is he still running?' A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the week before Super Tuesday, McCain got 18 times as much coverage as Huckabee, while Romney got 10 times as much. Even Rudolph Giuliani dropping out of the race got seven times more coverage than Huckabee. [Mentioned in] just 2 percent of all campaign stories, Huckabee almost didn't exist as far as corporate media were concerned — no wonder they were surprised to find him winning five states and more delegates than Romney.”


Sooner fears Eureka


Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern has gained a lot of attention because of a speech she made, now circulating on the Internet, in which she insisted that the United States was founded to be a Christian nation and said that gay people are more dangerous than terrorists. She cites Eureka Springs in support of the latter point:

“You know gays are infiltrating city councils. Did you know, Eureka Springs, anybody been there to the Passion Play? Have you heard that the city council of Eureka Springs is now controlled by gays?” She didn't say, but she probably got information from a DVD about Eureka Springs, “They're Coming to Your Town,” produced and distributed by the conservative fundamentalist American Family Association, which is headed by the controversial Donald E. Wildmon and based in Tupelo, Miss.


The missing detail


Last week, a car carrying seven Conway restaurant workers en route to a Florida vacation overturned. Six of the seven were thrown from the car. Two were killed and others were critically injured.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in keeping with longstanding newspaper policy, did not report whether riders in a car were using seat belts, though it could have been inferred that the six ejected from the car were not. News service accounts and the accounts of Florida newspapers all chose to report that six of the seven riders were not wearing seat belts. A Florida newspaper provided the further salient detail: The one passenger in the car who didn't require extended hospitalization had been the single rider in the car who was wearing a seat belt.

We've reported previously that the D-G policy is rooted in an editor's belief that mentions of seat belt use constitute implicit editorializing in favor of the practice. Here's some explicit editorializing: Use seat belts. Also: Don't drink or speed, to name two factors in accidents that the daily newspaper DOES include in accident articles.


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