Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for November 8th, 2014

#pointergate And Voting Rights

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 8, 2014

If you’ve been following the whole #pointergate story, you probably know that it’s about how a local Republican-affiliated television station in Minneapolis has become a national if not worldwide laughingstock for pushing a “mayor is flashing gang symbols” hit piece fed to it by cops and ex-cops who hate the reformist mayor Betsy Hodges and her new chief of police Janee Harteau.

Here’s Brian Lambert’s excellent precis:

I mean, this story is so nakedly and thoroughly targeted at a key demographic for local TV news you practically choke on it. And by that I mean this: The only viewers who were going to swallow this story — as Kolls and KSTP presented it — are fearful whites with little or no personal interaction with blacks or other minorities. People who almost never counter-balance the “news” they get on TV with any other stream of information, other than maybe an e-mail from an equally fearful friend or relative.

With the audience for local TV news was shrinking nearly as fast as it has been for daily newspapers (until a modest uptick in 2013) the core that remains is both older and (I strongly suspect) less socially sophisticated — i.e. more isolated from “criminal elements” than even 20 years ago. Where savvier news consumers have long since stopped rolling their eyes at the cliched/treadworn “if it bleeds it leads” news segments and turned off the local news altogether in favor of the internet, the crowd that remains faithful to local TV continues to be riveted by the relentless narrative of hardened thugs gunning down each other and therefore, soon to be blasting their way through the front doors of those same terrified viewers, never mind that their doors are in Maple Grove, Big Lake, Victoria, Edina and St. Cloud.

It was to that core local news crowd, primarily white, aged and out of step with the realities of modern urban America that Kolls and KSTP were appealing, and why they look like such pawns and fools today. (According to Pew research 54% of local TV’s news audience is over age 50. Although it could be worse. The over-50 audiences for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity clock in at 64% and 66% respectively.)

What you might not know is that this smear involved attacking the mayor and by extension her police chief because they attended a get-out-the-vote event held by Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. And of course, Republicans hate anything that involves encouraging poor people, especially poor nonwhite people, to vote – hence the flurry of laws designed to keep poor and nonwhite people from voting.

The Brennan Center makes a very good case for the idea that voter suppression may have been what cost the Democrats the Senate last Tuesday. It’s worth readng.


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