This past weekend, the Grand Rapids Press ran nine stories on the presidential race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. The articles featured stories on the “character” of the candidates, personal attacks, and one story on the candidates and the economy. Three other stories focused on the political scandal surrounding Sarah Palin and Alaska known as “Troopergate,” and a few stories on politicians and celebrities in Grand Rapids to stump for Senator Obama.
On Friday the Press published a Los Angeles Times article headlined, “Candidates zero in on character.” The short article focused on the continued personal attacks from both campaigns with Barack Obama accusing McCain of “erratic behavior” and McCain continuing to link Obama to the former Weather Underground member, William Ayers. The only policy issue mentioned in the story was the current economic crisis, but neither candidate addresses the issue except a comment from Senator Obama criticizing a mortgage bailout plan that McCain mentioned in last Tuesday’s Presidential debate.
On Saturday, the Press published an Associated Press (AP) story headlined, “McCain, Obama duel over economy.” The article had no new information on what either of the two major party candidates would do to respond to the financial crisis facing the country and were mostly cited in the story when accusing each others’ plan. The only new platform proposal raised in the article was an “economic stimulus package” that Senator Obama was proposing–a proposal that the Democrats put forth in Congress just before lawmakers adjourned for the elections. The proposal would include using Federal dollars for infrastructure projects like road and school repairs that would be funneled through the states and provide them with additional funds to assist with the state’s own budget crises.
On Sunday, the Press then ran another AP story that said Senator Obama acknowledged that the attacks from the McCain camp were “tempered” in recent days. However, most of the article contradicted this point by stating “McCain’s TV ads continue to attack Obama sharply.” The article also stated that vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin “attacked Obama on abortion on Saturday” while campaigning in Pennsylvania.
the Press also ran three articles over the weekend that dealt with the political scandal surrounding vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Two of the stories provided no clear information on the accusations against Palin, but a story the Press published from the Washington Post on Friday was instructive. The story was about the role of a public relations firm in promoting Governor Palin as a “crusader against Big Oil.” It is the first time there has been a mention of the role that public relations firms play in electoral politics in the past few months, an issue that the Center for Media and Democracy (http://www.prwatch.org/node/6990) has been tracking in this years Presidential race since February.
On Friday, the Grand Rapids Press also ran two separate stories about former Michigan Governor Miliken and actor Forest Whitaker who were both in Grand Rapids to encourage voters to support Senator Obama. Both stories offer no information on the election besides why both the former Governor and an actor are voting for Obama.
However, the longest story related to the presidential race that appeared in the Press over the weekend was about a 16 year old Obama supporter, who after having his yard sign stolen, now has a video camera that is live-streamed on his new homemade yard sign. This article was 2 to 3 times longer than any other story about the presidential race this past weekend. It’s just one more indication that the Grand Rapids Press fails to provide readers with information necessary when making an informed decision in the 2008 elections.