Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kirkpatrick runs, the knives come out

CD1 Rep Ann Kirkpatrick, having no doubt accepted that someone has to do it, today put her hand up to go against John McCain for the US Senate next year, taking on what is sure to be a costly, bloody, soul-sucking and likely losing fight. That's a pretty good news story. I am saddened and more than a little peeved to have to point out that it's not the one the Courier is choosing to run this evening.

The headline reads "House Democrat Kirkpatrick to challenge McCain for Senate." It's not "House Democrat Kirkpatrick to challenge Senate Republican McCain for Senate," of course, that would be balanced yet awful. It's not "Kirkpatrick to challenge McCain for Senate," which would do just fine. The editors made the choice of using "House Democrat" as the descriptor, which emphasizes that she is less well-known and of lower status than McCain. They're true enough, but the words are unnecessary to a headline in this area, and all editors are trained try to keep headlines as succinct as possible to save inches for the advertisers.

She shoulda bit him.
The lead picture, on a story about a three-term Representative announcing a campaign, is from the end of a debate in Tuscon during the last campaign, showing her shaking hands with former AZ House Speaker Andy Tobin, whom she defeated. Tobin is in the dominant position in the photo, to the left, taller than Kirkpatrick, who is smiling and postured a bit submissively. Consider that the AP has literally thousands of photos of Kirkpatrick, including her official portrait, any of which the Courier could have drawn upon for this story.

Nearly half the story is about the Republican lawsuit against the last redistricting and confident prognostication by Republicans that Kirkpatrick is running because she expects that her House seat will become untenable when they win it.

The story contains two quotes from Kirkpatrick. There are three from Tobin, including a thought not in quotes attributed to him. There are three from McCain and people working for him, including the final-thought story closer.

As descriptors Kirkpatrick gets "won narrowly," "targeted" and "part of the problem in Washington," where McCain gets "most influential," "formidable" and "vigorous."

All these were editorial decisions, and if they were unconscious it's worse. This is a hack attack of the lowest sort, unworthy of any news organization and embarrassing to the profession I must share with the perpetrators in the Courier editorial suite. Shame.