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Political Bias Behind Endorsement in Dinniman/Aichele Race May 5, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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Today the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed Andy Dinniman over Carol Aichele for the State Senate seat in the 19th District (Chester County). Their reasoning:

"The Inquirer's recommendation to district voters is ANDY DINNIMAN. This close call comes down to two things: his 15 years as commissioner, as opposed to Aichele's two years, and that word, interconnected."

Let's evaluate these reasons:

1) Reason #1: Years in Office
Somehow Carol Aichele, who has more than 10 years of public service as a School Board Director, County Controller and a County Commissioner, had enough experience in 2003 to please the Philadelphia Inquirer. So has she become less qualified as the years passed?

Here's what the Inquirerwrote about about Carole Aichele in 2003, when they endorsed her and Dinniman for Chester County commissioners:

"As Chester County commissioners, CAROL AICHELE and ANDREW E. DINNIMAN would have the depth of knowledge and experience to hit the ground running. Aichele, of Tredyffrin, has seven-plus years as county controller."

Does the Inquirer views years in office as a valid reason to endorse one candidate over another, or does this logic only apply when a Democratic candidate has seniority? One way to tell will be the endorsement in the 2006 Senate Race. Will the Inquirer pick Rick Santorum for his experience, or will it endorse political neophyte Bobby Casey Jr? The answer will be telling.

2) Reason #2: Interconnected

I always thought the job of a local politician was to serve his/her local constituents. Apparently, I was wrong. Their job is to be "interconnected." Here's the Inquirer's cliche-ridden, wordy explanation of the concept:

"Dinniman believes that the well-off in one of the state's wealthiest counties shouldn't overlook its poor. They're interconnected. And he's stepped up with his work for the homeless and the hungry. He believes you save open space by revitalizing urban spaces. The issues are interconnected. He's stepped up there too, helping create the county's acclaimed Landscapes program. He's earned a promotion to State Senate, where he plans to keep stepping up, reminding Harrisburg lawmakers that property taxes, education, health care, the environment, globalization are all – you guessed it – interconnected. They should pull up a chair and listen."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's endorsement is "interconnected" alright. It's interconnected with their desire to see a Democrat- any Democrat- win. Just read this article. If you can't spot the bias, here's some help.

1) Sometimes phrasing shows a reporter's true feelings. For example, read this:

"Both are running for a vacant state Senate seat that local political leaders say the Democrat actually has a chance of winning. Such a feat, last seen almost 20 years ago, would end Republican control of the Harrisburg delegation from Chester County."

Such a feat?! Great example of neutral, unbiased language, right? I can almost feel the reporter's excitement at the thought of a Democrat taking back Chester County. A later quotation called the prospect of a Dinniman victory "earth-shaking."

2) Next, contrast the following lines from the article to see how the same exact thing (getting party support) is described differently depending on a candidate's political party:

"Gov. Rendell is expected at a fund-raiser for Dinniman in Tredyffrin Township on Friday."

"Aichele, 56, who has been a county commissioner since 2004, is being helped by operatives sent in by the Republican State Committee to run her campaign."

Operatives. That's a dirty-sounding word, isn't it? Nobody likes someone who needs "operatives" to win. I guess we better vote for Dinniman. Surely, he isn't being helped by any Democratic "operatives" like Gov. Rendell for example.

3) Finally, there's a matter of the number of words devoted to their respective accomplishments. Here's what it says on Dinniman (the Democrat):

"During his terms as commissioner, Dinniman's initiatives have included efforts to build a homeless shelter when homeless people were sleeping in the courtyard of the courthouse. Working with county farmers, he started a gleaning program that has attracted hundreds of volunteers and has distributed 150 tons of fruits and vegetables for the needy over the last five years."

Here's what it says on Aichele (the Republican):

"The campaign has its edges. Dinniman says that Aichele made a fuss in 2005 over a commission report she sponsored that called for a variety of efficiencies to make government cost-effective. The committee met for several months in 2004, and in January 2005 issued a report that, among other things, called for the county to adopt a strategic plan for guiding county operational, policy and financial decisions. And then nothing happened. Aichele said the other commissioners were reluctant to pursue radical change. Dinniman disputes that. 'I was prepared to move forward, but my colleagues withdrew,' he said."

I've gone to both candidates' websites, and they both have significant accomplishments. Yet the Inquirer devotes space only to Dinniman's. To make the contrast even more apparent, the last paragraph is devoted to what Aichele's opponent views as her failure as a commissioner. Aichele's response to the mud-slinging is only paraphrased whereas Dinniman gets the first and last word on the issue. Is this what passes for balanced coverage?

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