Thursday, July 24, 2008

Single-Thread Herald Fabrics

The stains on Chapter 207 of our laws is about to wash out. As soon as our House affirms the Senate vote to repeal Sections 11, 12, 13 and 50, we join California as a state that offers marriage equality to our citizens and others who want to marry here.

Over at the Boston Herald, at least one reporter, Hillary Chabot, will have to turn her sensationalist squint to other melodrama. At first scan, her Tuesday Pols mad DiMasi is forcing vote on gay marriage bill was winger pandering to most extreme anti-SSM forces. It includes the stereotypical yellow journalism stuff:
  • Shock statement from an anonymous source — repealing these laws "...is a lose-lose for anyuone facing a challenger."
  • Anonymous slur on House Speaker Sal DiMasi.
  • Inference that a couple of long-term SSM opponents' views are those of the House.
  • Silly hyperbole on a done deal — DiMasi is "...forcing a vote on a hot-button bill..."
Viewed as theater, this is typical Herald stuff. Viewed as news, well, we can't view this as news.

Unfortunately, Chabot is the latest in a line of Monday Morning Briefing columnists as well as scandal monger. Alas, we recall Kimberly Atkins, who set the standard for that political short insights feature. No one following groks it.

Back to current reality, I acknowledge that Chabot likely doesn't write and may have no input into her headlines. However, she certain writes the tortured and sneaky articles. SSM isn't her only play; this is what she does.

Others, such as Adam Reilly over at the Boston Phoenix, have hooted over some of these. For example, to drum up interest in the T general manager not taking the T, she did a prolonged pseudo-60 Minutes thingummy. As Reilly put it, "Also, while I admire the hustle displayed by Herald reporter Hillary Chabot and Herald photographer Mike Adaskaveg--who've apparently been staking out Grabauskas for seven weeks (!) to document his T non-ridership--I'm guessing that a simple phone call to Grabauskas's office would have sufficed."

Where would the multiple articles and the squeals of indignation have fit with straightforward reportage?

Chabot's heart may be in a nefarious place, but she seems an active general-assignment reporter. A Net search shows earlier pieces from the local Sun and Sentinel. She's gone down and very dirty covering the guy who smeared his feces on stall walls at the Kennedy School. She also did a lot of ordinary local political coverage in several places.

At the Herald now, she seems to specialize in non-stories or layering the nasty on the ordinary for effect. For example:
  • Today's piece on a bill for gender neutral phrases in legislation — something numerous states have done without problems or controversy — she leads with "A raging battle of he said-she said roiled the marble halls of Beacon Hill yesterday after one woman strove to put a feminine touch on Bay State laws." Whoever wrote the head used "Pol sparks battle of the sexes." Of course, there in no battle. Despite her effort to make this seem like a big deal, it would have worked better with a little humor and cracks from the alter kakers on the Hill.
  • Yesterday's Daily Briefing note, "Putting the 'fun' in fundraiser," was a typical non-story. It leads with the addled, "Rep. Robert DeLeo and lackeys Rep. Barry Finegold and Rep. James Vallee made a brief and we can only hope deliciously awkward appearance at Rep. John Rogers fundraiser at Anthony’s Pier 4 Tuesday evening." It goes on for a couple of short graphs surmising what that may have meant with no basis or conclusion.
  • Also yesterday, she had an unattributed, unprovable conjecture about Willard Mitt Romney being near the top of John McCain's VP list. This came from "a source close to" Romney. Maybe that was his barber or a gardener?
  • A week ago, one drag racing teen in Ashland who did himself in was also an instant pattern to her. As she not so subtly yet illogically put it, "A senseless fatal crash - and the release of a teen driver accused of barreling drunk down a narrow road in an alleged two-man derby - has cast new doubt on a much-touted Beacon Hill crackdown on drag-racing." The co-racer who didn't die was ordered not to drink or drive before his August 27th court date. That's all the proof of the legislature's failure she needs.
This is like Parade magazine without the glamorous pictures.

To the repeal of the 207 sections, DiMasi is fooling around, promising only that he'll put it to a vote within two weeks. My question is whether he wants to go to the trouble to make it appear unanimous or nearly so, as happened in the Senate. I don't see how the House can do anything other than repeal these.

The canard from the anti-marriage equality forces is that if we repeal our prohibitions on out-of-state couples marrying here if the SSM would not be legal in their home state(s), we are redefining marriage for the other states. Consider:
  • We small, very small, beer contrasted with California, which has legalized SSM and does not prohibit out-of-state couples from marrying.
  • Several states' residents can already marry here and next to none have.
  • There's no legal way to prevent legally wed homosexual couples from moving to other states. This has not produced the plethora of suits and legal chaos predicted from 2003 through today.
  • Our legal marriages no more redefine another state's marriage laws than our different driver's license requiements do. Marriage is still determined per state and will continue to be so.
Of course, Chabot airs that fallacy/alarm a few times in her brief article. She also writes that a repeal "renews the gay marriage debate and provides opponents with fresh fodder only months before voters decide who to send to Beacon Hill."

Maybe she didn't get the news when she was still in Lowell or she hasn't been paying attention in Beantown. SSM is the law of the commonwealth. It's settled. The last gasp was the failure to get an amendment to halt it put on the ballot. There's no extra innings, no two-out-of-three, no mulligan here.

Instead of renewing a dead debate, the long overdue repeal means another colossal failure of the MFI and MR dwindling party of anti-gay/anti-marriage equality folk. They have sworn their minions will sway the hearts and minds of the Senators, and now the Reps. Every issue they take up, testify on and lobby for, they lose worse than the previous one.

Moreover, the repeal will undercut such groups' ability to raise funds from the confused and gullible. Cynics comment that the only reason they keep up the semblance of a battle is the donations (their execs' salaries). Maybe that's so and if it is, they have a friend and PR agent in Chabot.

You'd think she should have looked at their pattern of failure and cut bait with these trash fish. I'm not at all sure they have another sensationalist issue after this one. For the Herald, that's no matter. There will be others.

Is there any way to get Kim back?

Evening Followup: The MFI folk must love Chabot. They cited and paraphrased her 1913-laws piece, down to "disgruntled" and her anonymous quotes in their email blast late yesterday. She'll move beyond MFI when they are no longer useful, but at least short term, they're BFF.

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