Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pro-Plebiscite Globe Filing

Another Scott Helman editorial disguised as news appeared today after Gov. Romney's I'm-with-them press conference on the anti-SSM amendment. A journalism student would have a fun content-analysis exercise with it.

As one might expect from a political blog, we write partisan posts here. Having come out of j-school myself, I would expect rather more objective coverage in a major daily.

Regardless, the gist of the dais drama was:
  1. Romney joined by three Catholic Bishops and two anti-SSM petition-drive leaders.
  2. Romney and Cardinal O'Malley saying that the amendment should go through two ConCon sessions to the 2008 general election.
  3. Romney saying that having the majority vote on rights for a minority is only democracy, not discrimination.
Now consider Helman's hair-on-fire reporting:
  • The two remaining Bishops become "and a phalanx of religious figures." With that loaded term is the implication of both number and strength.
  • Trying to influence the legislators in a Catholic commonwealth is not called political maneuvering or anything like it. However, he says that SSM "supporters on Beacon Hill will devise a tactic to prevent the measure from even coming up for debate." This, he writes, has "Romney and the religious leaders...clearly concerned..." So there you have one side's tactics as reasonable defense against sneaky tactics.
  • Likewise, without listing the actual "tactic", he concludes that if the ConCon votes on the Goguen/Travis anti-SSM bill first, rejects it and calls it a convention, "Such an outcome could abruptly end the long and active campaign to put the ban to voters in 2008." Here, he is buying into Romney assertion that 1) a plebiscite should define minority rights, and 2) that by implication noble and hardworking anti-SSM forces have labored mightily to serve the public, while those rascal pro-SSM people are anti-democracy.
  • Helman goes on with "The fears of Romney and other gay-marriage opponents may be well founded: Adovcates for same-sex marriage say they'll do whatever it takes to make sure the amendment dies." Here again, despite the scandalous petition drive, he would paint the pro-SSM forces as somehow manipulative and dishonorable in following the political rules that will benefit them.
It is astonishing in such a short piece how plainly Helman overplays his hand and shows his emotional reportage. If the guy believes in ballot initiatives that strongly, he should write an op-ed for the Globe. If he is so anti-SSM, he should refuse to cover the issue as news.

We looked over past Helman reports on the subject and see similar bias. This is by far the most heavy-handed. Yet, we wonder where were his editors when this stuff slithered through?

Heartening Update: An hour after Helman's piece, the Globe ran real reporting listed under AP's Steve LeBlanc byline. If you would like to see a balanced view, try his article.

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