Saturday, July 05, 2008

More on N&O's coverage of Obama, Easley spouses

Thursday I posted N&O's double standard re: Obama's, Guv's wives.

The short of it: The Raleigh News & Observer gave extensive front page coverage to a substantial pay raise and promotion N. C. State University granted Mrs. Mary Easley, wife of Gov. Mike Easily. In the case of Mrs. Michelle Obama, the N&O’s reported extensively on her but, as far as I know, never even mentioned the much more substantial pay raise and promotion the Chicago University Medical Center (CUMC) gave Michelle Obama at about the time her husband was elected Senator. Both stories are worth reporting. I criticized the N&O for a double standard.

The post drew comments. I want to respond to one here. The commenter’s in italics; I’m in plain.

Allow me to clarify: I'm arguing that John is neglecting a key difference between the Obama and Easley cases. That difference -- the public/private distinction -- makes the Easley story much more newsworthy.

The CUMC is a internationally recognized, multi-hospital medical center with strong teaching and research emphases. Each year hundreds of millions of public dollars flow through CUMC to fund those activities as well as patient care.

CUMC’s activities necessarily involve it with governments at the local, state and federal levels. That involvement includes matters as diverse as government review of the bio-ethics of a research study to zoning and re-zoning affecting construction and building use.

It’s hard to believe you’re not aware of the foregoing and would offer “the public/private distinction.”

Whatever the case, you offer a distinction without a difference.

For one thing, the Easley story is localized in North Carolina; it's logical that the N&O would cover that more aggressively than something happening in Chicago.

Michelle Obama is the wife of a man who’s running for President. The N&O has covered her extensively, but selectively.

Besides failing to report on the very substantial pay raise and promotion she received from CUMC about the time her husband was elected Senator, the N&O has failed to report on what she thought of Rev. Wright’s racist and anti-American sermons and why she joined with her husband in taking their children to Wright’s church for religious instruction.

Much more importantly, the point of this public/private distinction is that this Easley scandal is a betrayal of taxpayers' trust.

I’ve already dealt with the “public/private” distinction without a difference.

On the matter of Easley’s pay raise and promotion, I wouldn’t call it a scandal or a betrayal of taxpayers’ trust if, as N. C. S. U. has said, she is uniquely qualified by professional training and experience to fulfill new duties for which her compensation package is comparable to that paid to others with similar training, experience and job duties.

To restate, it’s the N&O’s double standard I’m objecting to. I have no grounds at this time to say, as regards the pay raise and new duties, that either Mary Easley or N. C. S. U. has acted scandalously and betrayed taxpayers’ trust.

I simply don’t know; and not knowing I give both the woman and the university the benefit of the doubt.

Do you have any information supporting the serious charges you make? Or are you a troll?

The Obama situation really isn't, and I also think you could argue that as a public figure Michelle Obama is worth a lot more to the university now than she was even a year ago.

By this point I’m sure all fair-mined readers understand I apply the same standards to Michelle Obama as I do to Mary Easley as regards questions surrounding their pay raises and promotions.

It's hardly possible to make a similar argument about Mary Easley, the wife of a lame duck governor with modest regional visibility.

Even with Governor Easley a lame duck the matter of political influence can reasonably be thought to have played a role in Mary Easley’s promotion and pay raise, and certainly with Michelle Obama’s.

But that doesn’t mean either or both women are not well-qualified for the new positions they were given and deserving of their higher salaries in light of comparable pay to others for comparable work.

We should always remember that political influence is a fact of life that’s quite properly considered in certain hiring and promotion situations.

The current President of the University of North Carolina System, Erskine Bowles, is a former candidate for the U. S. Senate and served as President Clinton’s chief of staff. By all accounts Bowles, at the time he was considered for the office, had a reputation as a very able administrator with a tremendous knowledge of the state’s needs and the complex UNC System. He also had considerable political influence which no doubt was a factor in the Board of Governors’ decision to name him President.

All things considered, I see nothing wrong in that.

You don't need data or my personal experience to see that John's not making a valid comparison here.

Readers now have enough information to make their informed judgments about that.


TruthHurts001 said...

As to "newsworthiness"...

Wouldn't it make sense that a woman who is merely "the wife of a lame duck governor with modest regional visibility" is significantly less newsworthy than the woman who is the wife of the Democratic Presidential nominee?

Anonymous said...

I spent about 10 minutes and found a couple of things the N & O could have considered in their piece on the Obama side.
"In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mrs. Obama’s compensation at the a non-profit, University of Chicago Hospital, where she is a vice president for community affairs, jumped from $121,910 in 2004, just before her husband was elected to the Senate, to $316,962 in 2005, just after he took office."

Her new main professional objective was "outreach" with the community.’

Barack Obama was chairman of the Illinois State Senate Health Committee, which boosted her career.

Obama requested a $1,000,000 earmark to her employer.
A hospital spokesman Says Michelle Obama, ‘Didn't Personally Lobby Husband For $1 M Earmark.’

A hospital spokesman said, Obama’s $316,962 salary puts her in line with the other 16 vice-presidents salaries.(That is over 5 million dollars a year for vice-presidents at a not-for-profit hospital.)

Why does anyone wonder why health care costs are so far out of sight? Now we know why Senator Obama tells us we need the government to run our healthcare system. He can guarantee a VP in every pot!

Recently Michelle Obama told young people to shun corporate jobs and choose public service instead. She of course works for a non-profit hospital. She works for practically nothing.

JWM said...

To Truth Hurts 001,

You're bang-on right!

I plan to keep pushing the N&O to report on the story.

I hope you keep commenting as you did here.

To Archer 05,

I'll bet you often got "A" for your research assignments.

What you cite here is important.

I'll use some of it later in the week in detail.

But I've heard back from Vaden so I'll be responding to him Monday and I'll only reference your citations in a general way.

I don't want to get too complex with him.

But you sure are pointing toward some questions the national media should have probed more deeply and shared more fully with the public.

Thank you both for commenting.


When I respond