Media

More Messages: Make Goods Make Bad

A blog entry posted yesterday chided the Rocky Mountain News for overplaying the argument between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry over a poorly delivered joke by the latter, and criticized the Denver Post for underplaying the same subject. Today, both papers tried to make amends for their questionable coverage, but they did so in equally dubious ways.

The Rocky promoted Kerry's comment (and the hullabaloo that erupted because of the Senator's ultra-moronic decision not to immediately apologize to anyone offended by his remarks) as its big story of the day: main headline on page one, plus splashy treatment in the prime slot in the World & Nation section. Such play was so over-the-top that it smacked of partisanship, and editorial types at the tabloid seem to have realized it. Hence, the story about Kerry's belated mea culpa ran on the third page of today's World & Nation roundup sans a photo. Had the original coverage been more proportional, this decision would have been justified. But going huge on day one, when the story inflicted maximum damage on Democrats, and then dimming the spotlight on day two, just as Dems had a chance to save face, smacks of partisanship, too.

As for the Post, the broadsheet buried the first Kerry story on page 12 -- a throwaway spot if ever there was one. The story generated infinitely more interest than this placement indicated, and it only grew throughout yesterday. So today, the Post published the Kerry-says-sorry report above the fold on page one. By doing so, the paper essentially admitted that it screwed up the day before, which is true. Yet by giving much more prominence to the apology than it did to the reason for it, the Post looks every bit as biased to the left as the Rocky does to the right.

Both papers should be credited with trying to make good. Too bad neither actually managed to do so. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts