Friday, February 16, 2007

Sentinel turns its front page over to Patrick critics

The Sentinel and Enterprise (and its MediaNews sister paper, the Lowell Sun) has finally cast aside any illusion of unbiased "news" coverage and just turned its front page over to critics of Governor Deval Patrick.

According to the Sentinel, this afternoon's "breaking news" is that the governor has hired a chief of staff for the first lady, at the tune of $72,000 per year. This article tops the homepage of the Sentinel. Fair enough. Maybe that's an issue, maybe it's not, but since the media across the board has decided that the biggest news this week revolves around what the governor has spent on the trapping of his office, it's understandable.

But check out reporter Hilary Chabot's lead. She literally turned the article over to Barbara Anderson, Citizens for Limited Taxation director and noted critic of Democrats for decades. Here is Chabot's lead:

BOSTON -- First there was the million-dollar gala.

Then there were the helicopter rides.

Now Gov. Deval Patrick is spending taxpayer dollars on staff for his wife.

The state has hired a $72,000-a-year chief of staff whose sole job will be to schedule Diane Patrick's public appearances and media availabilities, The Sentinel & Enterprise has learned.

Compare that to what Barbara Anderson had to say in paragraph 13:

"This could be just the beginning. There was the big gala, the helicopter, and now the wife with paid staff," Anderson said. "He's creating an image of royal governorship that we're not accustomed to at all."

It's been a long time since I wrote for a newspaper, but I can't imagine that using a paraphrase of the only critical source in your story as your lead is an acceptable practice. Where was the editor when this story was filed?

Oh wait. The editor of the Sentinel already showed his hand during the election by cobbling together a series of Republican attacks against Patrick and placing it on the "Local News" section of the paper online.

Faced with the choice between journalism and partisanship, we know where the Sentinel will come down.

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