Anyone who followed the governor’s race in 2014 knows Ohio media regularly allowed Gov. John Kasich to get away with murder, so to speak, by not confronting him on his many scandals, choosing instead to pound his Democratic opponent for what in hindsight were merely minor shortcomings.
Kasich won his first term in 2010 by only 77,127 votes statewide, so he needed a solid second win to justify running for president in 2016.
The former congressman who represented a reliably Republican district in central Ohio for 18 years has accumulated a terrible record since 2011 that includes, but isn’t limited to the following: Robbing local governments and schools of billions done so he could say he balanced a state budget required by law to be balanced, creating a private non-profit (JobsOhio) group backed by leased liquor control profit revenue that was impermeable to public records rules, derailing the Libertarian Party of Ohio’s candidate for governor, signing the bill that has so badly gerrymandered Ohio, reversing an energy portfolio that once lead the nation and now trails it by miles, and falsely claiming Ohio wasn’t already recovering from the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression when it had been climbing out of the cellar for months before Citizen Kasich bamboozled mainstream media with his juiced up claim that “Ohio was broke.”
Kasich doesn’t generally like media even though he spent years pandering in it at Fox News, where he sometimes substituted for Bill O’Reilly on “The Factor” when O’Reilly was still the kingpin of right-win media news. During the 2014 election, not only did Team Kasich bar one reporter from covering him, he regularly told other reporters to stop asking him some questions because he wouldn’t answer them. Desperate for access to him, media obliged him, doing a great disservice to its readers and subscribers in the process
While media chose not to confront Kasich on his many shortcomings, before and while governor, they couldn’t write fast enough or negative enough on the Democratic Party’s last candidate for governor, Ed FitzGerald, from Cleveland, whose lapses of judgment – like being caught in a car late at night with a woman not his wife – dominated headlines and made Kasich’s Cheshire Cat smile with pleasure that media was destroying the competition. Media trashed FitzGerald so much that Team Kasich took the cue and refused to debate FitzGerald, saying his campaign was collapsing, so why bother?
Like associated national media, Buckeye media trashed Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) by reiterating right-wing, Fox News-driven malarkey that she was no different than the orange reality TV star and human IED from New York, unqualified and unfit to run for president.
They were right about one candidate, Donald Trump, but very wrong on Hillary Clinton. Editorial boards in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Akron finally endorsed Clinton over Trump, but one single editorial endorsement couldn’t override or counter the toll taken on Clinton after months of negative reporting on her, based on emails and Benghazi, by these same legacy news sources.
National media, led especially by the long vaunted printer of “all the news that’s fit to print,” The New York Times, piled on Clinton with news that wasn’t fit to print when compared to news about Trump, from his secret deals that allegedly are tied to Russian funder or his tax returns and what they would reveal. On this single topic, big media screwed Hillary Clinton. She drills down on what the media did and their failure, to this day, to acknowledge their bad behavior let alone accept any blame for it.
In Clinton’s new bestselling book, “What Happened,” a revealing look at last year’s election from her perspective, she makes this poignant point:
“I don’t understand why there’s an insatiable demand in many quarters for me to take all the blame for losing the election on my own shoulders and quit talking about Comey, the Russians, fake news, sexism, or anything else. Many in the political media don’t want to hear about how those things tipped the election in the final days. They say their beef is that I’m not taking responsibility for my mistakes – but I have, and I do again throughout this book. Their real problem is that they can’t bear to face their own role in helping elect Trump, from providing him free airtime to giving my emails three times more coverage than all the issues affecting people’s lives combined.”
In his point-on review of “What Happened,” that includes no quarter given the role media played in helping the most unqualified and unit person to be election president, James Fallows, who writes at The Atlantic, said the press bears great responsibility for what it did.
“But the press is among the groups that messed this up, badly, in particular through the relentless push in New York Times coverage that made “but, her emails!” a rueful post-campaign meme. With this book, Hillary Clinton has gone a considerable distance toward facing her responsibility for the current state of the country. Before any news organization tells her to pipe down or stop explaining herself, I’d like to see them be as honest about their own responsibility.”
The point of her book isn’t lost on other voices, like Sher Watts Spooner, who grinds her media ax this way on media versus HRC:
“Of course, smart-and-effective Hillary Clinton is not the impression the media gave you of Clinton during the campaign, or since, or ever (i.e., “Clinton rules”). It was non-stop coverage of her emails and endless stories about how she just wasn’t “likable.” Descriptions of her nearly always contained adjectives such as “calculating” and “untrustworthy.” All that negativity became its own narrative, as her approval ratings kept dropping more quickly than Michael Flynn (now possibly facing indictment himself) could lead Donald Trump’s crowds in chants of “LOCK HER UP.” Even today, her approval is lower than Trump’s, a fact that the media seem almost gleeful to point out.”
Back in Ohio, the next election for governor is about 15 months away. Ohio Democrats have four declared candidates for governor, three of whom are women. Republicans have just one lady candidate, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Can the Buckeye blue ladies, each of whom is qualified, experienced, mature, and brimming with confidence, expect treatment from Ohio media that doesn’t screw them in the same way Hillary Clinton was last year, that finally led to Trump beating her by more than 446,000 votes?
If media helps denigrate them, based on their gender alone, will the eventual Republican candidate likewise refuse to debate them should Democrats have a lady as their nominee? Kasich did four years ago when reporters not only showed no appetite to push for debates in light of FitzGerald’s minor problems, but one newspaper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, went so far to favor Kasich that it took down, at Team Kasich’s request, a revealing video of Kasich letting the pent-up adolescent of his teenage politician mindset to explode in advance of Election Day when Ed FitzGerald, knowing this was his only shot at asking him a question, asked one.
The teenager in the room got huffy and ignored the question. If you’ve always been the teenager in the room, you can’t sell yourself as the adult in the room when it comes to national issues.
Ohio Democrats have an uphill climb before them, made worse by the fact that the state since 1994 has been run by Republicans from top to bottom, except for a short period, from 2006-2010 when Democrats occupied four of five statewide offices and controlled the Ohio House for one session.
Looking ahead by looking back on last year, voter turnout will be down by a significant margin as always happens in mid-term elections. If Democrats got swamped at the polls last year in a presidential election year, can they realistically out-vote Republicans next year when the White House isn’t at stake?
Clinton knows more than her critics will acknowledge about what happened last year. Do Ohio Democrats know what really happened, and can they overcome it if Ohio media follows the same disappointing course it followed in 2010 and 2014, when it chased every stick Kasich threw, no matter how wrong or misleading it was, and became uninterested when sticks that would have put Ohio’s 69th governor on the hot sit went unfetched?
Despite his terrible time in office, Ohio media still feeds at the feet of Kasich, who will soon wander off the political radar screen when he’s no longer governor. Kasich still gets headlines from the Plain Dealer and Columbus Dispatch, among other media, slobbering over his shifty positions that include an odd-couple bromance with Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, who along with Govs. Kasich and Montana’s Democratic Gov. Stephen Clark Bullock, have conjured up a middle-of-the-road list of reforms to shore up some Obamacare state healthcare insurance exchanges.
Will Democratic candidates, regardless of gender, have the spine to take on state and local media when they know doing so runs the risk of adverse coverage? For all of them, and they all voted for Hillary Clinton and saw her as a role model for modern women, can they envision what’s going to happen, then summon the courage to be non-traditional with state and local media by calling for the truth, instead of Donald Trump’s abuse of the Fourth Estate, labeling them the “the enemy of the people,” because they won’t report fake news as real news?