A week after we started our Election News Hunt with our partners PBS Engage and P.O.V., we have collectively found some great coverage of electoral issues from mainstream and independent media -- even though this was a slow week, due to the 4th of July holiday.
Kudos to our new members and our regular NewsTrust reviewers for this fine start! We particularly wish to thank our News Hunt co-hosts, Mike LaBonte and Chris Finnie for leading the charge. Thanks for being such wonderful hosts!
Here are some of the most interesting stories we've found so far:
P.O.V. / PBS - By Katy Chevigny - Jul 2, 2008 (Special Report)
Tax Tally Trickery
FactCheck - By Lori Robertson - Jul 3, 2008 (Special Report)
Lack of funds hobbling the 'Republican attack machine'
McClatchy - By Steven Thomma - Jun 30, 2008 (News Report)
Obama and the Black Church
The New York Review of Books - By Darryl Pinckney - Jul 6, 2008 (News Analysis)
Obama Network Organizes and Revolts Over Spying
The Nation - By Ari Melber - Jun 30, 2008 (News Analysis)
Davis: Leveling rich candidates' speech unjustified
First Amendment Center - By Tony Mauro - Jun 30, 2008 (News Analysis)
Q&A: E-voting activist more optimistic about voting systems
Computerworld - By Todd R. Weiss - Jul 7, 2008 (Interview)
How the Republicans claimed the "patriotism" mantle in presidential politics
Slate - By David Greenberg - Jul 3, 2008 (Opinion)
Losing the Latino vote
Weekly Standard - By Matthew Continetti - July 9, 2008 (Opinion)
High hopes abroad for a new U.S. president
Christian Science Monitor - July 2, 2008 - (Editorial)
The Nation - By Katrina vanden Heuvel - Jul 7, 2008 (Opinion)
The political establishment and telecom immunity -- why it matters
Salon - By Glenn Greenwald - Jul 5, 2008 (Opinion)
( see also Part II of Greenwald's piece)
What Patriotism Is
OurFuture.org - By Michael Winship - Jul 3, 2008 (Blog Post)
Among the most prominent electoral issues covered in our selections are concerns over how efficiently this year’s election will be carried out. The P.O.V. documentary “Election Day,” which aired July 1 on PBS, laid the groundwork, drawing high ratings for its examination of the complexities and challenges of the election process, as experienced by American voters in 2004. (If you haven’t caught "Election Day" yet, you can watch it on the P.O.V. Web site, where it is running until the end of July.) NewsTrust Reviewer Denise Clendening called it "a great way to teach civics and remind people of the importance of each and every vote by showing different voting experiences across the country. The film inspires and subtly challenges everyone to get involved in the process. "
In a more explicit piece on election reform Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, outlines steps she feels need to be taken to reform elections and revive American Democracy, which she says is in “decline.” Vanden Heuvel’s commentary has proved one of the top-rated stories so far, earning praise from several members -- including Jack Dinkmeyer, who said this:
Heavy going, but everything one ever wants to know about what's wrong with our election system and suggestions about repairing it is in this article. . . . What neocons fail to grasp is the depth of America’s outrage about the last eight years, and business as usual isn't going to hack it.
Fred Gatlin, however, disagreed, and offered this critique of Vanden Huevel's proposals:
The key to democracy is a well informed voter. I find nothing in this article that considers voters often vote with little or no information. I also find nothing that discusses the need for more a better easily available information about candidates. Also in my state and I suspect in most if voters vote regularly they do not need to register again unless they move, change their name or change parties. This article fails to discuss any of these important issues.
Harking back to voting irregularities and complications at the polls in the 2000 and 2004 elections, the reliability of different voting methods has been called into question in several articles, op-eds and blog posts. Johns Hopkins professor and activist Aviel Rubin puts the risks and advantages of electronic voting in perspective in a highly-rated interview with Computerworld Magazine. Chris Finnie, co-host of the election News Hunt, found Rubin’s input helpful:
Because this is an interview, it really only presents the point of view of the interviewee. But, because of his credentials, it's still a valuable and interesting viewpoint. I am glad to hear we've made so much progress on the issue and feel heartened by the new information he presents. A must read for anybody interested in the topic.
Independence Day prompted two opinion pieces that examine the role patriotism has played in the 2008 election and in past political campaigns. In a two-part commentary, David Greenberg of Slate looks at American electoral history to analyze how Republican figureheads redefined the concept of “patriotism” and used it to the party’s advantage in nearly every major election since WWII. A similar but separate op-ed from PBS writer Michael Winship asks what “patriotism” really is and who embodies it. Winship’s article struck a chord with Norman Farrell, who dubbed it a thoughtful piece:
In this fine article, Winship explores true patriotism. He refers to Obama's speech about the nature of patriotism but expresses strongest admiration for Air Force Reserve Major David J.R. Frakt, who argued for a tortured young detainee at Guantanamo. That an air force reserve major could speak truth to power, without fear of retribution, is an example of America's true greatness.
The campaigns of both Barack Obama and John McCain have come under intense criticism in the past week -- Obama for what some perceive as his shifts on domestic spying and foreign policy; McCain for failing to differentiate his policies from those of George W. Bush and for what one publication charges as inaccurate attacks on Obama.
Obama came under fire from Salon's Glenn Greenwald, among others, for saying he would back a bill that would expand the federal government's domestic spying powers and provide immunity for telecommunications companies currently accused of allowing such surveillance. Greenwald's piece, "The political establishment and telecom immunity -- why it matters," received more than a dozen reviews and has remained one of the top-rated stories since it appeared July 5.
In another report well-regarded by the NewsTrust community, the nonpartisan Web site FactCheck called the McCain camp's claims that Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes "inflated and misleading," presenting a detailed analysis on why the publication found that charge incorrect. News Hunt co-host Mike LaBonte called it "a typical excellent analysis from FactCheck, and Naomi Isler lamented that the issue hadn't received more attention: "Where's the rebuttal and why isn't this on page one of some newspaper of general circulation, or TV screen during prime time?"
The Election News Hunt will continue through Monday, July 14. Now that the holiday is over, be sure to submit more stories on this important topic! To join the hunt, go to the 2008 presidential election home page and review some of today's stories. For additional tips on how to participate, check our Election News Hunt welcome page. And if you haven't already, please sign up to review stories on NewsTrust.
Derek Hawkins, Assistant Editor -- with the NewsTrust Team