Monday, July 07, 2008

N&O responds to “Double standard: Obama’s and the Guv’s wives’ promotions, pay raise”

On July 3rd I posted Double standard: Obama’s and the Guv’s wives’ promotions, pay raise.

The short of it: The Raleigh N & O gave 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, hasn’t mentioned the much more substantial pay raise and promotion she received from the Chicago University Medical Center (CUMC) about the time her husband was elected Senator. Both stories are worth reporting. I criticized the N&O for a double standard.

I sent N&O public editor Ted Vaden an email and link to the post and invited him to respond.

I’ve received the following reply from Vaden:

Let's see: You're accusing the N&O of coddling the Democratic presidential candidate's wife but trashing the Democratic governor's wife?

The Michelle Obama reference was a single sentence, deep inside the Washington Post story about her husband's home loan. The N&O ran an edited version of the story Wednesday, and it properly focused on questions about Barack Obama's loan deal. The Mary Easley story focused on the first lady herself and included plenty of comment about the propriety of her raise. It came in the context of previous stories about her high-dollar travels.
Where to begin?

First, I encourage all of you to take another look at my post and email to Vaden.

You’ll see I never accused “the N&O of coddling the Democratic presidential candidate's wife but trashing the Democratic governor's wife.”

I began the email:
Regarding today’s lengthy, front page story concerning Mrs. Mary Easley’s hefty pay raise awarded by N. C. State University, I’ve no problem. Easley’s pay raise, which the university says is justified based on new duties, involves public money. And Mary Easley's the governor’s wife.

It’s important for citizens to know about the situation; and it’s appropriate for the N&O to ask questions and report prominently what it learns.
That’s certainly not accusing the N&O of “trashing the Democratic governor's wife.” Just the opposite: I explicitly told Vaden “it’s appropriate for the N&O to ask questions and report prominently what it learns.”

How can he so misrepresent what I said?

I plan to email Vaden tomorrow and ask him that.

I’ll also note something else I said in the email:
But I’m concerned there’s a double standard evident in the N&O’s treatment of Mary Easley’s situation and a strikingly similar one involving Mrs. Michelle Obama which, as far as I know, the N&O has not reported in any detail. (emphasis added)
That was the main point of my post and email.

I continue to object to the N&O’s double standard evident in its reporting on Mary Easley while remaining silent about Michelle Obama’s comparable situation.

In a follow-up to the July 3rd post I discussed issues relating to the two women’s pay raises and promotions. I encourage you to read that follow-up post - More on N&O coverage of Obama, Easley spouses (July 5th ) - if you’ve not done so already.

Some of you have provided information regarding Michelle Obama’s promotion and pay raise in 2005 as well as some of her work for CUMC. That information (see posts’ threads) strengthens the case for news organizations reporting more fully on Michelle Obama’s career at CUMC. I thank those of you who provided it.

I’ll repeat what I’ve said before: both women are entitled to their careers and, absent evidence to the contrary, the presumption they and the institutions employing them did nothing wrong. Political influence is a fact of life which, in some job situations, can benefit both the employing institution and a broader public.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

John: Now you know how little Alice must have felt when she went through the looking glass. Dealing with today's "journalists" is much like dealing with the caterpillar that told Alice a word means what he wants it to mean--nothing more, nothing less. These folks are dealing off a different deck and you simply can't get them to discuss anything they don't want to discuss. They lie, they misrepresent, they clam-up, they accuse, they do everything but respond. Jousting windmills must be a lot more productive.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Archer05 said...

John, The N & O can't seem to find any information to write a probing story about Michelle Obama. They can for Cindi McCain it seems.

The N & O repeats an AP story.
It is actually a big non-story to drumbeat-echo, Cindi is a millionaire, doesn’t pay taxes, beer heiress, blah, blah, blah.
Headline: Cindy McCain settles debt
with San Diego tax man

Article: Cindy McCain's debts with the county tax collector appear to be settled.
(So what is the need for this article, except to take shots.)
I have a few questions, how would Newsweek magazine even know about this tax debt? Why wouldn’t a tax collector receiving a returned tax bill, not try other means to reach Cindi McCain? It is not as if she is underground. Is this what is called yellow journalism?