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Postology 102

September 23, 2010

Just when you are ready to write off Fred Dicker as someone whose best days are well behind him, he does something to restore your faith. His article today was an insightful, timely and objective analysis of Andrew Cuomo and his candidacy. 

We agree with Dicker that Cuomo, rather than being the pragmatic, hard-nosed, get-it-done kind of guy he used to be, is now remarkably cautious and sensitive.  Dicker notes how this is a distinct disadvantage when running against a combative guy like Carl Paladino. 

For Dicker to bring to bear any kind of critical analysis of Cuomo is a surprise. It was only yesterday that he was criticizing Paladino for the cardinal sin of announcing a tax cut review panel without double-checking on the availability of certain panelists. One would have thought that given the Post’s orientation, any idea involving tax cuts would have been celebrated, but, no, the whole thing was “botched” and “an embarrassment” just because the suggested participants weren’t briefed adequately. 

The real embarrassment is when the Post goes off on Paladino for trivial reasons in an attempt to promote Cuomo’s candidacy. And the newspaper, and especially Dicker, have been doing it for months. 

Who can argue with this statement: The Post has had far more enthusiasm for the Cuomo candidacy than Cuomo or his people. 

And that’s what makes Dicker’s analysis this morning so surprising. Is it possible that Dicker and the Post are beginning to calibrate their coverage? Or will they just revert to boosterism when the next poll that shows a wider lead for Cuomo? 

And what do the rest of the reporters do now? With the exception of the New York Times, no other media outlet has tried to examine Cuomo (or any other candidate) in a systematic way. 

In this regard, it is a true failing of the media this year not to develop criteria for analyzing the candidates. Each media outlet should consider it their responsibility to develop an approach to covering the campaign, and not just cover the day-to-day developments as orchestrated by the candidates. Here’s a quick, minimalistic approach for such coverage: 

Who does the candidate surround himself with? What kind of people are they? What are their qualifications and experience? 

What are the candidates’ fundamental political beliefs? How long has he or she held them? How have they evolved? How might they evolve? 

What is the candidate’s commitment to openness and honesty? How do they demonstrate that commitment? Do they make themselves available on a regular basis and answer all relevant questions? Or do they duck the media and refuse comment? And what does this say about their likelihood of running an open government?   

How does the candidate propose to get things done? What’s the plan and strategy? How will they succeed where others who might have been similarly well-intentioned, have failed? (And come to think of it, a tax cut panel run by people with a broad vision on how to restore New York’s competitiveness is a great idea. It just might provide the impetus for finally getting something done.)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. societax permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:59 AM

    “In this regard, it is a true failing of the media this year not to develop criteria for analyzing the candidates. Each media outlet should consider it their responsibility to develop an approach to covering the campaign, and not just cover the day-to-day developments as orchestrated by the candidates.”

    i was pretty sure that y’all had a good sense of humor, and there it is for all to see. i really like the phrase “failing of the media this year” as if this year could be distinguished from all other years’ coverage of elections at any level. there’s basically one policy-related question (with minor variations) that every candidate should be required to answer: please provide the details; tell us what you’re going to do.

    here’s an example for ny: take the 2010/11 state budget as a starting point. please give specific details of what your 2010/11 balanced budget would have looked like as a blueprint for how you would handle the 2011/12 budget. tell us exactly what cuts (programs, agencies, &c) you would make and what taxes (user fees, &c) you would raise. specify clearly what items are one-shot gimmicks that won’t exist the following year. now tell us why your proposal is good and will make ny better. and you can go through each and every issue this way.

    from this question you can judge honesty and vision and evasiveness. if you can’t tell me exactly what you would do, or at least hope to do, then all those other questions–how you would do it, how long you’ve held your political beliefs, how they evolved or will evolve (*snicker*)–just feed the sensationalist sideshow.

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