Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hatchet Job Masquerading as Political Analysis

A friend of mine asked for help in a political media interpretation class they were taking. I won't bore you with the details but I only bring it up because this is how I came upon this article. This is the sort of hatchet job one would expect to find in the New York Times or Boston Globe however instead I found it in a local Midland, Texas newspaper. It is the exact sort corrupt political writing that has made Conservatives everywhere distrustful of the media. It starts like this...

Giuliani's ties to Houston law firm gives him Texas boost
Republican Rudy Giuliani -- thrice-married, liberal on social issues and a
consummate New Yorker -- seems an unlikely White House contender to be embraced by a Texas' GOP establishment rooted in the energy industry and dominated by religious conservatives.

Right from the get go, the article is suspect. Imagine, the shoe on another foot. One could see this sort of lead in, Democrat Hillary Clinton, scandal ridden, highly polarizing and with negatives already at or near 50%, has bucked convention and continues to lead nationwide. Let's try another... despite his Mormon background, flip flopping on key issues, and reputation for being to slick for his own good, Mitt Romney maintains a lead in Iowa.

While it is pefectly fine to lead in in such a way, if there is going to be straight analysis, we will expect to understand how he has bucked the conventional wisdom that a social liberal could lead in a social conservative party. Instead, what we get is a nebulous reason that is really just an excuse to attack Rudy in a backhanded and terribly unfair sort of a way.

But the former New York mayor has built a formidable political base in Texas
with the help of well-connected Republican money men. He owes his advantage in
part to his role as a name partner with a powerhouse, Houston-based law firm
known for its impressive roster of energy-giant clients, Bracewell &

His partnership in the law firm has also brought Giuliani
unwelcome criticism in connection with some of the firm's more controverisal
clients, including a Spanish contractor involved in planning part of a Texas
superhighway toll road known as the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Texas farmers and other landowners are worried their property rights will be trampled to make way for the highway. Conspiracy theorists see Giuliani, because of his highway connections, as allied with a cabal of international monied interests plotting to supplant the United States with a North American Union that includes
Mexico and Canada.


Giuliani reported in a federal financial disclosure form in May that he
received $1.2 million in income from Bracewell & Giuliani during 2006


So, if we are supposed to believe the article, Rudy's ties to this all powerful law firm minimize the nature of his positions in a party that sees those positions 180% opposite of him. By this notion, any senior partner at this firm could get traction in the Texas Republican Primary regardless of their social views. This is of course nonsense, but it isn't really meant to be analysis. The law firm is a trojan horse as an analysis piece. It is placed in there solely so that the author could then spend the next three paragraphs analyzing the merits of a case Rudy wasn't involved in, a case that obviously is not one most people would approve of. In other words, while pretending to analyze Rudy's merits as a candidate, what the author is really doing is trying to marginalize Rudy through guilt by association.

It continues...

"The relationship with Bracewell has given Giuliani a financial foothold in the
state," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, which tracks
money in politics.

While Giuliani isn't "totally in sync with the base on social issues," Texans liked his take-charge approach during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and his mayoral record on crime-fighting and budget control, said Austin-based GOP consultant Reggie Bashur


"The grassroots in Texas is ... strongly conservative. ... very much right-to-life, very fiscally conservative, strong on national defense, very strong on the war on terror, not overly sympathetic to the gay rights movement," Bashur said.


Giuliani's campaign finance chairman is Roy Bailey, a former finance chairman of the Texas Republican Party. Dallas billionaire T. Boone Pickens and Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks are major fundraisers.

Giuliani had raised $3.69 million in Texas as of July 30, the most of any presidential candidate.


So, again, if we are pretending that this is just mere straight analysis, it seems this law firm is all powerful because it has given him a foothold financially and he has raised more than anyone else. At this point, we are almost three quarters of the way through the article and it has devoted exactly two sentences to anything that is positive about Rudy.

The next two sentences masquerade is more mere analysis but in fact give the author away as the hatchet man they are.

Giuliani has also developed a bond with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whom he
helped win re-election last year. That groundwork could make Perry a
high-profile ally in Texas, although the governor hasn't yet endorsed a
presidential candidate.

We are nearly done with the article before a much more logical reason for Rudy's success in Texas is even referenced, his ties to its leading politician the governor. It is of course a well known political paradigm that helping powerful people get elected helps you put together an organization for your own future runs, and that is what Rudy did when he got into bed with Perry and his successful run at the governors mansion. Let's face it, the tie to Perry wasn't done for any sort of analytical reason. It was done for the excuse to say what follows next.

Bracewell & Giuliani represents a business consortium involved in the
Trans-Texas Corridor, a costly, high-profile toll road pushed by Perry and
opposed by farmers and ranchers.

The first phase of Perry's proposed $184 billion toll road, envisioned as part of a superhighway stretching from Oklahoma to the Mexico border, was planned by the Cintra Zachry consortium, composed of Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA of Spain, one of the world's largest developers of toll roads, and Zachry Construction Co. of San Antonio.

Landowners say they worry that fields and farmhouses in Texas families for generations would be bulldozed for the highway.


But the lawsuit further fueled concerns about foreign ownership of a major Texas highway, and the project continues to be criticized by conservative groups like the Eagle Forum and the John Birch Society, who see it as part of an international conspiracy to create a North American Union. The conspiracy theory has also provided fodder for cable television commentators like CNN's Lou Dobbs.

So again, what we have is more guilt by association. Even Rudy's relationship with the governor comes down to nothing but baggage because of some obscure case they were involved in. This is a case that most people don't actually know about. It is only an issue because the author is making it an issue. Furthermore, he presents the John Birch Society and the Eagle Forum as some sort of mainstream and influential Conservative groups. Of course, that is just ridiculous. These are two fringe groups and John Birch has thrown their weight behind fringe candidate Ron Paul. The North American Union is something only fringe groups worry about, and Conservatives do not look to Lou Dobbs as any sort of leading commentator.

If, again, we are supposed to still look at this as mere straight analysis, the sum total of his relationship with the governor will amount to nothing more than the case that his firm helped the governor with. No straight analysis would ever make such an outrageous assumption, but then again this is no analysis but a simple hit piece. The hit piece wouldn't be complete with one last dig that really has nothing to do with the substance of the rest of the story.

Earlier this year, Giuliani sold his investment firm, Giuliani Capital, for
an undisclosed sum to the Macquarie Group, which is part of Macquarie Bank of
Australia. Cintra and Macquarie's infrastructure group formed a consortium that
operates a major toll road in Indiana.

Scott Segal, a Washington-based Bracewell & Giuliani partner in charge
of its government relations division, said Giuliani was not involved in the
Texas toll road legal work and that the law firm doesn't lobby on behalf of
Cintra Zachry.


Black, Perry's spokesman, said he doubts Perry even knows that Giuliani's
firm has represented the transportation companies in connection with the


While it dresses it up with some nice explanations, the clear implication is that Rudy sold out to foreigners. Furthermore, if Rudy doesn't even know about the project, why did the author spend several paragraphs in a painstaking attempt to flesh out the minute details of the case.
This is frankly the sort of thing that even the NY Times would avoid printing and the editor and author should both be ashamed of themselves.

I am personally disgusted. So much so, that I contacted the editor and wrote this,

Dear Mr. Gott,

Recently, I came across a political analysis from your paper about Rudy Giuliani that I find to be the gutter of all political discourse. This is a hatchet job masquerading as serious political analysis. I have no doubt that most people in Midland are frankly too stupid to realize what is being done to them, or at least, I have no doubt that you perceive your readers as such. I am not from Midland, but I do have power in the blogosphere and I will make this article and your paper by extension the symbol of everything that is wrong with this country’s journalism practices.

Here is the article in question.

Here is my analysis in response. If I am wrong, I encourage you to respond to my blog. I think that my response deserves the right to be heard in your paper. Furthermore, the author and whoever decided to let this be published should not be working for your paper, unless of course, you want the whole world to know that you have an obvious and uncontrollable bias toward Republicans or at least Rudy.

If you are as disgusted then I encourage you to go here and exercise your own first amendment rights.


GENE said...

The term, "scandal ridden..." only mildly begins to describe The(_!_)Clintons.

just Google "Clinton and scandal" in the same search and you will see that no other person (not president) person is more associated with the word scandal as The(_!_)Clintons


mike volpe said...

Sure, and some would say that the term socially liberal mildly begins to describe Rudy. The point is that if an article leads in such a way, one has to wonder what the author is trying to accomplish. If it is a hit piece, make your intentions clear, but in this case it is pretending to be serious political analysis.

What the author is trying to do is fool their audience no doubt because that is how little they think of their audience.

Snooper said...

Great piece! Cross-posting as requested!

If you see anything at my place you like, feel free to use it.

mike volpe said...

Thanks Mark.

I hope you noticed the new Blog Talk Radio link. It really is easy to put on the site, and the evidence is that I figured it out.

Sal Costello said...

Rick Perry, "Mr. 39%", would sink Rudy as a running mate. That "TTC Duo", Perry created the TTC, Rudy profits from it. They would be shunned at the polls: