Monday, April 30, 2007

Norm Coleman – 21st Century Franken Pioneer

The ultimate incumbent’s freebie is the Franking Privilege which allows members of Congress to use government funds to pay for mailings to constituents. Now, I have no problem when my representative uses the Franking Privilege to reply to a question that I have asked … and it is somewhat infromative when a representative sends out a mass mailing summarizing for his constituents the highlights of the a completed session. But, I was offended when Gil Gutknecht used his Franking Privilege to mail to rural voters a glossy brochure on his 10/10 Ethanol legislation … that was target marketing to pander to rural voters for the upcoming election.

As voters realize the pandering, the politicians need to find other ways to expend our tax dollars to let us know what they are doing for us. One new method that is being used is "video news releases" (VNR). The use of VNRs is not without controversy, as the General Accountability Office concluded that the Bush administration had illegally spent taxpayer money from the Medicare Trust Fund.

While the Bush Administration may have paid columnists to write about their programs and used VNRs to peddle the Medicare Part-D program, Norm Coleman may have found the equivalent of the 21st Century Franking Privilege.

Twin Cities media will tell you that Norm Coleman is a press release machine. Unfortunately, the print media will generally want to ask a few questions and edit accordingly. But the television media may be easier to manipulate.

Case in point … KEYC in Mankato has run two VNRs highlighting Coleman in committee functions.
To KEYC, it may seem to be “reporting the news” as all they have to do is follow the tag line and run the footage.
To the viewer, he doesn’t realize that he is being feed a line.

The most recent example was after the Agriculture Committee Hearing on April 24th. Coleman issued a press release .

But somehow, KEYC ran a nice clip of Coleman talking about “the need for dairy groups to work together to strengthen the safety-net for America’s dairy industry”.
Was this news?
Well, to evaluate it, I waited to see what the print media said about the hearing. Star-Tribune, Pioneer Press, Washington Post and New York Times did not deem this hearing to be newsworthy … not one inch of column space ! But maybe KEYC deemed that it was newsworthy since the subject may have interest to its rural viewers … but how come there was no footage of Senator Klobuchar who also sits on the Agriculture Committee?

The other example was on March 6th when KEYC ran another clip presenting Coleman’s Agriculture Committee “face time” discussing school lunches.

Com’n KEYC, you’re being manipulated …. Or is there a bias For Republicans?
See my previous blog commentary for previous examples of KEYC and its favorable presentation of Republicans.

Com’n Norm, your wasting taxpayers monies.
This is not CSPAN where a committee hearing will show all the discussion … from all the elected representatives.
This is pure Norm face time.
This is wrong.
It doesn’t matter if it is being done by a Republican or a Democrat, it is wrong.
Someone has to edit the copy just for your face time and your comment and then distribute it to the media.
You may call it, keeping the public informed … I call it propaganda … and pure campaigning.
When I see this type of media manipulation (or co-operation), even "Fair and Balanced" news reporting doesn't seem so slanted.

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