"The Political Edge" Needs Sharpening
Needs honing: On Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. I turned on the TV to check out the first edition of WGME-TV’s “News 13 at Seven: The Political Edge.”
Well, not really.
I’d already had enough politics for one day, so I watched the Red Sox game. But I recorded Channel 13’s new program, and this morning, I gave it my undivided attention. For much of the half hour, that was three-quarters of my attention too much.
There’s nothing edgy about “The Political Edge.” It begins with a brief roundup of the day’s news, followed by a lengthy weather forecast. Only then does it turn its attention to politics.
First, there was a clip from the previous night’s Larry King show in which Democratic political consultant James Carville suggests Maine’s own Olympia Snowe would have made a better vice-presidential pick for the Republicans than Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Interesting, but there isn’t much more host Gregg Lagerquist could think to do with this nugget, so it’s on to person-on-the-street interviews. What do Mainers (Portlanders, really) think of the news that Palin’s teenage daughter is pregnant? Based on a half-dozen brief soundbites, we can conclude that some of them think it’s a big deal and others don’t care.
The show is now about half over, and I’m happy I didn’t miss the first inning of the Boston game for this.
Next up, Lagerquist sits down (he’d previously been standing) for a live interview with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. He asks her a decent question – how she feels about Palin’s conservative social positions and support for oil drilling – but, as is often the case with Lagerquist interviews, he let’s her dodge any controversy by saying she doesn’t agree with everybody in the GOP about everything, but she’s proud her party has nominated a woman. No follow up. You’d think the questioning would be a little more aggressive on a program called the “Edge.”
Throughout the interview, Collins appears to have a tremor in her voice, as if she’s nervous, but she doesn’t have much reason to be. The rest of the segment is predictable, covering well-trodden ground. Nothing new. Nothing newsworthy.
Lagerquist wraps things us by promising that the next show will take a look at how the Web is affecting campaigning and campaign coverage.
That would have been edgy – two election cycles ago.
The Sox play an afternoon game today, so there’s no competition with the show’s second edition. Fortunately, I have Netflix.
Needs a reality check: NBC Nightly News aired its segment on the problems at the Portland Press Herald last week (it no longer seems to be available for online viewing), and, as has been the case with the Boston Globe and other national media covering this story, focused mostly on the rumor the paper might be forced to shut down. The more likely scenario – that the Press Herald will continue to publish until a new owner is found – doesn’t make for very good TV.
NBC may have the last laugh, though. According to an industry insider with knowledge of the situation at the Blethen Maine Newspapers (the Press Herald’s owner), the going-out-of-business coverage could be hampering efforts by Maine Media Investment to purchase the company.
“Stupid stories like these will just make it harder for [MMI partner Richard]Connor to find investors and banks to help him buy the paper,” said the source.
Still needed: Josie Huang, the ex-Press Herald health reporter laid off in one of the recent rounds of downsizing, started working at Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Portland studio this week as a news producer.
Needs to get away: T. Cushing Munjoy, the pseudonymous blogger who frequently outraged Press Herald staff and management with his pointed postings, has called it quits.
Munjoy put his Pressing The Herald blog on hold in March, claiming the current regime was so resistant to change, there was little point in critiquing the paper until editor Jeannine Guttman and her cronies were gone.
With the prospect of new ownership, Munjoy returned, as acerbic and insightful as ever. And, as ever, as ignored in the pages of the Portland daily.
On Sept. 2, he posted for the final time, a single line that read “-30-“ typographer’s code for the end of a story.
In an e-mail, he explained his decision to quit: “The situation at the PPH — the present product and most importantly the ownership/leadership — is beyond redemption. Confronted with example after example of ways to improve and better serve readers (and hardly just from me) they've never even tried. They always 'know better.' Their failure — unwillingness – to learn and adapt is as astounding as it is confounding.
“There are other windmills to tilt at.”
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.