LePage Beard Remark Took Time To Grow Into News Story
Slow reaction: On Feb. 16, Gov. Paul LePage held a news conference at which he made his now-infamous remark about the plastic additive bisphenol-A having no health consequences except that it might cause women to grow “little beards.”
For some odd reason, nearly a week went by before any news outlet reported on it.
Even though the comment had a six-day growth, the Bangor Daily News gave it front page coverage on Feb. 22.
By late that day, several Web sites had located video of the event and posted it. The rest of the mainstream media gradually caught up, apparently prodded along by press releases from environmental groups.
Even LePage insiders were astonished by the long delay in reporting their boss’s intemperate remark. One administration member told me, “We expected it the next day.”
Which raises a few questions:
Was every reporter at the original news conference asleep?
If so, what finally woke up the BDN’s Kevin Miller?
What does this oversight indicate as to how closely the news media are monitoring the new administration?
And what else are they missing?
Number crunching: When the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank, released a report on Feb. 23 claiming Maine government was overstaffed, most of the news media obediently regurgitated what they were told, adding only a perfunctory comment from an opposing viewpoint.
But as with almost all statistical analyses, more than one interpretation of the data is possible. If you were a curious sort, you might think an additional spin on the numbers could be enlightening.
Unfortunately, the only media outlet that bothered to do this sort of probing was the Lewiston Sun Journal, but not in its news pages. The paper offered an alternative take on the figures in a Feb. 25 editorial that calls into question many of the MHPC’s conclusions about how much Maine could save by laying people off.
Good to know somebody has a little initiative, even if it’s not a reporter.
Label this: During last year’s gubernatorial election, the Portland Press Herald wasn’t subtle about its support for independent candidate Eliot Cutler, frequently using its news pages to boost his name recognition and publicize his opinions.
So pardon me if I’m a little suspicious of that front-page story in the Feb. 25 Press Herald touting Cutler’s latest political venture, a town meeting for the non-partisan group No Labels.
I find it hard to believe that this event would have merited more than a brief, let alone a full story that got played out front if the politician involved had been anyone else. Call me cynical, but this certainly looks like the beginning of another “Cutler for Some High Public Office” campaign orchestrated in conjunction with the Press Herald.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.