Media

More Messages: The Out-of-Towners

There's plenty to gripe about when it comes to the news coverage offered by local television outlets. But when national TV types turn their attention to Colorado stories, the results are often far more distorted. A package that aired last night during NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams offers a prime example.

The ostensible subject taken on by NBC correspondent Chip Reid was the 7th District congressional race pitting Republican Rick O'Donnell against the Democrat's choice, Ed Perlmutter. However, Reid's focus throughout was on immigration policy, and the perception that the 7th could serve as a bellwether in regard to this debate. At the outset of the report, local businessman Rob McReynolds of D&D Roofing spoke about how the only employees willing to tackle the sort of back-breaking work he needs done hail from "the Spanish population"; the image seen here is from that portion of the piece. Later, O'Donnell offered some get-tough talk about border matters -- and Reid implied that such arguments form the backbone of the candidate's campaign. (One line from the presentation's text synopsis reads, "Like many Republicans, Rick O'Donnell is trying to ride a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment to Washington.") Perlmutter subsequently endorsed proposals more in keeping with the path-to-citizenship ideas espoused by President George W. Bush, among others. But his views were juxtaposed with those expressed by customers at the Sunrise, Sunset diner, most of whom seemed more in tune with O'Donnell than Perlmutter on this topic.

To tot up the problems with this report, a calculator would come in handy. First off, O'Donnell is not a one-issue guy -- and suggesting that immigration tops his agenda is highly dubious. On his website, he lists immigration third among eight major subjects of interest. (Perlmutter places immigration ninth among thirteen topics at his web address.) Moreover, O'Donnell doesn't so much as mention immigration in any of the campaign commercials or videos available on his site's media page; his most recent spot deals exclusively with Social Security. In addition, the notion that O'Donnell's immigration opinions will translate into votes isn't borne out by polling to date. This Rocky Mountain News article points out that a recent analysis by Survey USA shows Perlmutter with a 17 point lead over O'Donnell -- the folks at Sunrise, Sunset notwithstanding.

So the next time you're bitching about local TV news, remember: It could be worse. -- 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