Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Given the chance to be the mainstream media authority during a primary with a shocking turnout, The Clarion-Ledger flubbed it, instead displaying how deep its culture of incompetence runs. On primary night, as networks called the election for Obama before any results came in, the Ledger's reporter-on-the-ground, Natalie Chandler, seemed clueless about what she was watching happen in living color.
She reported (a) that Dems and Republicans were turning out in about equal numbers and (b) that the turnout was what as predicted: "light to moderate," which appeared in a Ledger headline all day. Meantime, anyone watching CNN with one eye could see that the turnout was huge, especially for the Democrats.
Still, the next morning, Chandler and the Ledger again reported a "light to moderate" turnout, and still missed the news that both the black and the young turnout had been remarkable the night before. It was if they had fallen down the rabbit hole and couldn't get back up.
Finally, some 36 hours after Chandler first screwed the turnout pooch—and after a long day of JFP bloggers saying "WTF!?!" (and apparent reader calls to Chandler and her editors)—the Ledger came out with a story about the large youth turnout on Thursday, as well as a story about how wrong Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's "light to moderate" predictions were. On Friday, Marshall Ramsey tried to clean up the mess with a cartoon ragging Hosemann, and the paper ran a ton of letters condemning their inferior coverage.
Meanwhile, the national media glommed onto "racial polarization" and largely missed the remarkable Mississippi turnout story in their rush back to New York City to hound Eliot Spitzer and his concubine.
No thanks to the Ledger, of course.
Bustin' a Boomer
As mentioned above, the national media meme about Mississippi this past week has been "racial polarization." This is "news" in the state that has only managed to elect a black statewide official while under the carpetbagger grip of Reconstruction? Or in a country that's not much better?
Uh, yes, CNN—Mississippi does tend to vote along racial lines. Even the Democrats. Old habits die hard.
Unfortunately, they missed the real story, though—that it was the vast number of African Americans—many young, many new voters—attracted by Barack Obama that was the excitement of the night.
No matter: The polarization meme caught on. By the weekend, the "Saturday Night Live" writers had decided to tell a racist joke at Mississippi's expense, and specifically at Mississippi Asians' expense: "This week Barack Obama won Mississippi with 90 percent of the black vote and a quarter of the white vote with Mississippi's one Asian guy still hiding indoors afraid to go outside."
Look, SNL, a lot of us Mississippians grew up hearing cheap race-soaked jokes that some people thought were oh-so-funny. But to respond to what happened here last week like that is despicable. If we believed anyone watched the comedy-show-of-the-Boomer-Generation anymore, we'd be concerned that you might be giving the wrong impression about our state.
Just sayin'. (Oh, and screw y'all.)
Squirrel in His Pocket?
Before we forget, we've got to rag David Hampton for the column he wrote a couple Sundays back entitled, "We often don't see the good around us." Alright, Hampton, what is this "we" bullsh*t!?! Is that a squirrel in your pocket?
The story under the headline is, well, pathetic. "Why is it that we are surprised when someone from out of town compliments us?" We are!?!
Then he wrote: "We get a compliment from a visitor, and we are shocked."
Alright now. Who on God's green acre does David Hampton hang out with? The cast of "Saturday Night Live"!?!
Truly, we are befuddled. Friends of JFP staffers come visit all the time (from New York City, Germany, D.C. and even Carthage) and say stuff like: "This is Jackson!? What great stuff is going on there; how lucky you are to be part of something so special. I'm jealous." Often they follow with: "Know of any good jobs?"
The thing that really chafes about that column comes later, though. Hampton—who bought whole-hog into the Perception-Gate™ conspiracy against the former mayor and his police chief—is suddenly finding the good in Jackson again. Even as his paper has done everything possible to feed into the city's "inferiority complex," suddenly he is seeing that downtown isn't rampant with crime—now that his friend Malcolm McMillin is chief.
Thus, Hampton is telling us that the perceptions about the city now matter—and they're better. Of course, back in the crime hysteria days, when crime was at its lowest point in years in Jackson, Hampton couldn't manage to say these things. Sigh.