Hit and Run Journalism

This evening I watched with curiosity a few pro-Terry McAuliffe bloggers promote on Twitter two stories critical of Brian Moran’s fundraising in his gubernatorial campaign.  Both stories will be in tomorrow’s papers but are online tonight. They both highlight Moran’s political ties to his brother, Alexandria, Va. Congressman Jim Moran.

The stories, in the Washington Post and New York Times,  point out that the Moran brothers have raised money from the same contributors, namely Northern Virginia-based defense contractors with business before a subcommittee chaired by Congressman Moran. The inference in both stories is that Jim Moran has steered these contributions to his brother’s gubernatorial campaign. The good government types among us call this “pay to play.”

Here’s my take:

  • It’s not a coincidence that both stories came out at the same time.
  • It’s unusual that the New York Times would report this story at all. Why do they care who the Democrats in Virginia nominate for Governor? Wouldn’t they wait until a nominee to write about this race? Maybe the Times wrote about Gov. Tim Kaine’s race against Jerry Kilgore in the spring before their election, but I could only find a story in October of 2005.
  • The Post doesn’t mention the campaigns of Moran’s opponents at all, the Times mentions McAuliffe’s fundraising in passing, but not the campaigns of Creigh Deeds or Bob McDonnell. This is unusual to me because the real story of the fundraising in this race is the huge amount of money raised by the McAuliffe’s campaign and how much of that is from out of state donors.
  • If you ask me, this is a nothing story pitched to both papers by the opponents of Brian Moran. If I had to guess, the McAuliffe campaign pitched this story, but that is pure speculation on my part. Remember, they see Moran as the biggest political threat because of his strong base of support in Northern Virginia. If they can tie him to his brother, who has a less than stellar reputation, that will help McAuliffe depress Moran’s base.
  • The goal is simple, to get major media to portray Brian Moran as the candidate of dirty money. (Note that this story was not pitched to the papers in Richmond, Hampton Roads or Roanoke. Doing that would have diluted the interest from the Times and the Post.)
  • All of this distracts voters from the questionable candidacy of the most prolific fundraiser in the history of the Democratic Party with no history of community involvement in Virginia — Terry McAuliffe

As for me, I’m not buying it.

I trust the analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project. VPAP said in a post on their website this week that they expect to have that analysis completed by Sunday night. (Isn’t it odd that these stories didn’t wait for that?)

As for VPAP, they report the following numbers as of Mar. 31:

  • Creigh Deeds — Raised – $728,812 / Cash on hand – $1,213,936
  • Brian Moran — Raised – $807,432 / Cash on hand – $823,888
  • Terry McAuliffe — Raised – $4,215,777 / Cash on hand – $2,433,712
  • Bob McDonnell — Raised – $2,219,387  / Cash on hand – $3,499,341

Maybe I am too cynical, but when a pro-McAuliffe blogger is promoting the Post story before it appears on the Post website, I am more than a little bit suspicious.

But to be fair, I’m not entirely objective either. I don’t pretend to be. I’ve stated repeatedly my personal belief that Terry McAuliffe represents everything I hate about politics. I think he was a successful fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, but that’s it — Democrats actually lost control of the Congress on his watch. I also don’t like his role in prolonging the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary. Put plainly, I don’t want Mr. McAuliffe to be my governor.

But setting that aside, I imagine a more objective observer of this matter would agree with me that the timing and the placement of these stories, as well as what they don’t report, is suspect.

What about you? What do you think? This video sums up my views.

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1 Comment

Filed under Virginia Governor's Campaign

One response to “Hit and Run Journalism

  1. Jass

    That video rocks.

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