Today, two major PA daily papers came out endorsing Bob Casey, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Neither came as a surprise. They have failed miserably and irresponsibly to do an adequate job of covering the senate race, almost ignoring and always discussing the Casey competitors as minor irrelevancies. Over and over again, the daily papers across the state, with a few minor exceptions, have covered the senate race as a race between Casey and Santorum, ignoring the other candidates. Both papers coverage of the race has been editorially disgraceful and an embarassment to independent journalism. It's why a recent poll found that only about 4% of the mainstream media are doing an excellent job.
If these dailies had done a fair, reasonable job of covering the other candidates, it would be just fine for them to make an endorsement. If the dailies had sponsored polling, like major media to, looking at all the candidates, that might have mitigated their guilt. The Inquirer's sister paper is one of the funders of the Keystone poll, headed by Terry Madonna. That poll ignored Pennacchio, a declared candidate even before Casey, while including undeclared gubernatorial candidates. The Daily News could have and should have exerted pressure, as a sponsor, on the Keystone poll to do the right thing, to poll with evenhanded policy, rather than polling in ways that favored Casey, Even when Pennacchio was included, the polling was unevenly done, with Casey set up to poll higher, with an uneven number of questions before the match-up Casey/Pennacchio/Sandals questions.
Philly's NPR DID get it right. Marti Moss Coane did a one hour interview with each candidate, asking tough questions, giving the audience a chance to raise questions, giving the candidates a chance to show their stuff. It shows that it can be done. Failure to do the job is a failure to meet the newspaper's journalistic responsibilities to Democracy.
A poll our site commissioned-- the OpEdNews / ZOgby People's Poll (called People's poll because we asked our readers and writers to suggest questions) found that the majority of Pennsylvanians want real election reform. They want the money taken out of the race as a variable. They want qualified candidates to get the same amount of money and to get free air time on appropriate radio and TV venues. This model also depends upon fair coverage by the print media. Failure to do an evenhanded job turns a local daily newspaper into a partisan operation, like Fox News. In this case, the newspapers have sided with the more corporately friendly candidate. What a surprise. It shows why more and more people are turning to the internet for their news. No wonder congressional corporate shills are considering changing the rules on the internet so big companies can pay extra so people will load their sites faster.
I should say that I am a Chuck Pennacchio supporter. He and Alan Sandals are both real Democrats, which I don't think Casey is. Casey promises to be another Joe Lieberman type. He will be a disappointment who chronically disappoints the real democrats in the Democratic party. In Pennsylvania, over 6o% of registered Democrats are women. Casey's policies on abortion rejects their interests. It was a betrayal by Ed Rendell and the party insiders to promote Casey as a candidate. His "amazing" victory in the treasurer's race was over an opponent whose name no-one even remembers. His othe races were just as inconsequential, against minor hitter opponents. His only tough race, against Rendell, he lost, in spite of having the state Democratic party's endorsement.
I believe, between Pennacchio and Sandals, Pennacchio is the best choice to vote for in the primary because he has built an extraordinary statewide organization of over 6000 supporters. When the second and last debate was held in Lancaster, Pennacchio had at least ten times more supporters in attendance than Casey and at least twenty times more than Sandals.
If it were all about money, then Casey would be the victor. It wouldn't even be necessary to hold an election. A number of high profile Democratic party out-of-state insiders have gotten behind Casey, raising millions for his campaign. But it's not just about money. As our poll found, Pennsylvania voters don't want campaigns to be about money at all, which totally opposes the DSCC policy. I think Howard Dean sees the light but he works for these myopic politicians who can't get out of the money rut.
But money raised before the primary won't matter after the primary. I actually believe that a Casey loss will HELP beat Santorum. Casey is clearly the favorite in this race. Bad polling practices favoring Casey and failing to evenly deal with all the candidates are portraying a race that just will not happen. Our poll on the senate race, the only one, at the time so far, to look at all the declared candidates, found that Casey's lead collapsed when respondents learned about how candidates stood on nine major issues. Once the candidate positions were discovered, Casey lost his lead and Pennacchio and Sandals actually pulled higher percentages than Casey. Detractors of our poll say that won't happen for the primary because Pennacchio and Casey don't have the money to get the facts out about their positions and Caseys and they don't say it, but they expect the mainstream dailies and local TV stations will continue to fail to do their job of evenly covering the race.
The problem is, the poll, in my opinion is really predicting what will happen to Casey when Santorum starts opening his eight figure war chest, making sure the voters know about Casey. It will be the Santorum attack, and it will be a nasty, withering, brutal assault, that will insure that voters know about Casey and all his positions, all his contradictions (and there are many. The Pennacchio team has elucidated them handily here in this page of contradictory Casey quotes. Remember the attack ads against Kerry-- "First he approved the $87 billion..." This list could be used to attack him as a two-faced flipflopper. And don't blame the Pennacchio campaign for assembling it. If they can do it with their paltry financial picture, you can be sure that Santorum's oppo research will dig all of it up and more. How do you think he'll handle that?
Here's my argument for Supporting Pennacchio:
Every Dem in PA should be voting for Chuck just to prove he is stronger than Casey. This will produce an incredible springboard-- underdog beating the beltway boys.
First, let's talk about money. Bob Casey has raised millions, compared to tens of thousands for Chuck Pennacchio and half a million that Alan Sandals has mostly put up out of his own pocket, or borrowed.