The Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert had an interesting — and kind of fun — story in Tuesday’s paper headlined “Candidates wary as opposition cameras roll.” Here are the first paragraphs of her story:
The Haverhill VFW Post was friendly territory for Senator Scott Brown, a National Guardsman himself. Yet in the midst of his remarks to veterans this month, he stopped abruptly, distracted by a video camera in the crowd.
Brown fixed an icy gaze on the man behind the lens.
The cameraman was a video tracker for a liberal group that supports Brown’s Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren. His mission, as it is most days, is to track the senator’s every word, in hopes of catching an inconsistency, or better, a gaffe. The senator, too, reaps the benefits of a tracker, one assigned to follow Warren.
Brown ordered the young man out.
“Every word they’ll use in some kind of negative commercial and it’s shameful,’’ Brown later said, according to the Eagle-Tribune newspaper.
Ebbert reports that Elizabeth Warren’s campaign staff “recently barred a Republican tracker from a rented space in a community arts center in Lynn where the Democratic candidate, a bankruptcy law expert and consumer advocate, was showcasing her expertise.”
I have a question for the Senator Brown and candidate Warren: What, precisely, is your problem with someone recording your campaign appearances? These are public appearances and you are running for public office.
Another question for the Senator Brown and candidate Warren: What, precisely, would be “shameful” about a statement you made at a public event while running for public office being widely disseminated? Isn’t the point of any candidate’s media operation to get what the candidate says widely disseminated?
With obvious indignation, the New York Times ran an item on its political blog Wednesday afternoon headlined “Asked About Gay Marriage, Romney Doesn’t Answer.”
Romney, having just finished a campaign event in Colorado, was working the rope line — political jargon for the candidate shaking hands with members of the crowd — when reporters “pressed” him, according to the Times, for a statement on gay marriage.
“Not on the rope line,” Romney told the media. The Times reported this as Romney “refusing” to answer questions.
Keep scrolling down to the bottom of the blog post, though, and you discover Romney had answered a question about his (well known) position earlier in the morning during an interview with a local television station.
Here are the final two paragraphs of the post:
Asked by Fox News’s KDVR-TV about a bill that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado, which died late Tuesday night, Mr. Romney reiterated his belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
“Well, when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts,” he said, “I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not.”
The Times isn’t peeved that Romney refused to answer a question about his position on gay marriage — it's that he refused to answer it at that time, at that place, to those reporters. For this, the blogger slaps him with a “refused” when “declined” would have been as accurate, along with a headline that suggests Romney wouldn’t answer a question on the day’s hot topic.
The Times reporter does deserve credit, though, for reporting that Romney had answered the question about gay marriage earlier in the day — which only makes it more irritating that the reporter should give Romney an electronic slap for not answering a similar question a few hours later.
Writing as someone who spent much of his adult life asking politicians questions, I understand a reporter’s irritation at a candidate who blows you off. You’ve got a story to write or a blog entry to post.
But nothing requires a candidate to answer every question pose by every reporter ever time the candidate appears in public. Let’s be reasonable.
The candidate does have a responsibility to the public to answer questions on every topic relevant to the campaign. But the candidate has no obligation to respond every time a reporter pipes up with a question. Each and every reporter is not the one and only proxy for the people.
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There are a handful of facts — provable facts — we know about the death last week of former National Football League star linebacker Junior Seau. We know that the San Diego County medical examiner’s office ruled his death a suicide on Thursday, the day after he was found dead in his home. We know that he played 20 seasons in the NFL.
We do not know why Seau killed himself, but that did not stop the media from speculation — and, in some stories, assuming — traumatic brain injury caused by his years of football led to his suicide.
The Boston Globe’s front page story on Thursday, “Seau’s apparent suicide stuns Patriots, league,” featured a smaller headline under the main headline: “Follows deaths of other athletes with brain trauma.” Strictly speaking, this is accurate. It is also accurate to say that Seau’s death followed by just a week the death of former Boston Patriot Billy Neighbors, who died April 30 at the age of 72.
Like so many media stories about Seau’s suicide, the Globe story never states that traumatic bring injury led Seau to suicide but does offer the implication.
The NFL and its fans have become accustomed to dealing with the early deaths of its former heroes.
Former Falcons safety Ray Easterling, a plaintiff in a high-profile lawsuit against the NFL concerning concussion-related issues, died last month at the age of 62 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In February 2011, former Bears star safety Dave Duerson, 50, committed suicide — a gunshot wound to the chest — and left a note asking that his brain be donated for the study of brain trauma in athletes. Recent research has focused on the long-term effects of concussions in sports.
Seau’s similar method of suicide has sparked speculation about brain preservation. Seau, a violent tackler and physical player, was never listed on an NFL injury report with a concussion, according to ESPN. But during the earlier years of his career, awareness of brain injury and concussion was far less than today.