A Tale of Two Primaries: AP Cold to Conservative Victory, Swoons Over Lib Lamont

It is interesting how the MSM covered the primaries this year.
Especially the Lieberman/Lamont fight in Connecticut, naturally. But,
looking over the coverage I saw a strange difference in how the MSM
treated the Connecticut race and one not so nationally known in
Michigan. Apparently, according to the media, a victory by a liberal counts for more than a victory by a conservative.

To illustrate my point, I will use two Associated Press reports made on the very same night, Primary night, August 9th.

We all know what happened with the Lieberman/Lamont contest, of
course. Lamont eeked by Lieberman with a spread of only 10,119 more
votes (of 283,055 cast) than the 3 term Democratic Senator giving
Lamont 52% to Lieberman's 48%. This is hardly a landslide by any honest
reckoning. Yet, the MSM played this like a groundswell for Lamont. Here
is how the AP reported it on election night...

Lieberman's defeat poses opportunity and challenge for Democrats

-- Sen. Joe Lieberman's primary defeat Tuesday night came at the hands
of Democratic voters angry over the war in Iraq and demanding that
lawmakers stand up to President Bush rather than stand with him.

It wasn't a polite message they sent their three-term senator,
a former vice presidential running mate who fell to anti-war challenger
Ned Lamont. It was an eviction notice, served by an electorate that has
grown remarkably sour about the course their country is on.

That makes the result both an opportunity and a challenge for
Democrats nationally as they head into a fall campaign with control of
the House and Senate at stake.

So, AP has decided that this win by Lamont might
bode a sort of national referendum for the Democratic Party. That this
portends great "challenges" to the Democrats, that this is a
groundswell of support for Lamont's position, if you will.

Perhaps it is. Closer analysis puts that in doubt. Regardless,
the AP has decided that it is an anti-war "message" that the Democrats
must listen to nation wide and that incumbents better pay attention.

That same night there was a race in Michigan that sort of ran to the polar opposite of that in Connecticut.

Michigan Republican Loses Party’s Nomination

DETROIT (AP) -- Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz lost his party's nomination
Tuesday, falling to a staunchly conservative challenger in a primary
race dominated by a struggle over GOP principles that attracted more
than $1 million in spending by outside groups.

Schwarz, a moderate who supported abortion rights, was defeated
by former state lawmaker Tim Walberg. With 92 percent of precincts
reporting, Walberg had 53 percent, or 31,869 votes, to 47 percent for
Schwarz, or 28,168 votes.

--Note-- the final totals in Michigan were: Walberg - 33,144 (53%) and Schwarz 29,349 (47%)

I'll bet few of you reading this ever heard of this race in Michigan even though it almost mirrors the Lieberman/Lamont race.

So, for a quick recap, we have Lieberman, the claimed moderate,
being ousted by his party over a win by a more ideologically extreme
opponent in Connecticut. In Michigan, a moderate representative is
being told he is not going back to Washington by his party due to the
better showing of a more conservative opponent in the Primary there.

Curiously enough, the results in the Walberg/Schwarz race gave
Walberg, the Conservative challenger, a tad larger win than the leftist
Lamont's win over Lieberman with Walberg garnering 53% of the vote and
Lamont getting only 52%.

notice the difference. As far as the AP was concerned,
the win for the leftist Lamont meant a nation wide mandate from rank
and file Democrats to lead a leftist revolution in the Party. Yet a
conservative win in Michigan was ... well, it was merely reported
matter of fact, apparently signifying nothing all that earthshaking. No
national "challenges" or widespread and important meaning for a GOP
that has increasingly tended toward the moderate, middle of the road

So, why is this win in Connecticut such a bellwether, yet an
almost identical situation (though in reverse) in Michigan is not? Why
did the MSM treat the Lamont win as a "message" that all should heed,
but the Walberg win was apparently not a "message" and is seemingly
nothing to get all worked up over?

Could it be that the race in Connecticut gave the MSM the
result that was on their Christmas wish list? Could it be that a
leftist "message" being sent nation-wide is more interesting to them
than a more conservative one? Could it be they have more invested in
helping that leftist "message" get out?
The contrast is amazing, is it not?

UPDATE 17:15 by Matthew Sheffield. I
couldn't help but notice how the AP frames the Walberg victory within
the context of a "staunchly conservative challenger" beating a
"moderate" with the assistance of evil-sounding "outside groups."

The "anti-war" Lamont, meanwhile, won his victory thanks to an electorate who wanted to "stand up" to President Bush.

Associated Press Journalistic Issues