Half-Empty vs. Barely Noticed: Boston Papers' Treatments of Obama Appearances Starkly Contrast

October 25th, 2009 11:13 AM
obama_patrick_090120President Obama was at Democratic Party fundraising events for incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick in Massachusetts Friday night.

The Boston Herald's Hillary Chabot described the attendance at one of the events (HT Jules Crittenden, who is a Herald editor, via Instapundit) as "barely half-full with 125 deep-pocketed Democrats" in the second paragraph of her report ("President Obama: ‘Tough race’ ahead for Gov. Deval Patrick").

Meanwhile, at the Boston Globe ("Obama blows in, talks up Patrick and future"), staff reporter Matt Viser saved an observation that "the events appeared to not be fully booked" for the end of his fifth paragraph. The "events" were "a reception and a larger ballroom gathering." Somehow, if Fenway Park had 20,000 - 25,000 on hand for a Red Sox game (Fenway's capacity is 37,400, and every Red Sox game has been sold out for over six years), I doubt that Globe sports reporter Bob Ryan would describe it as "not fully attended."

Here are the first several paragraphs from each report. First, from the Herald:

Plagued by his own plummeting polls and playing to empty seats at a high-roller Hub fund-raiser, President Obama acknowledged yesterday that his close friend and political alter ego Gov. Deval Patrick faces a rough road to re-election.

“There really should be no doubt that this guy gets a second term. But let’s be honest. This is going to be a tough race,” Obama told a room barely half-full with 125 deep-pocketed Democrats who ponied up $6,000 for Patrick and the party. “Re-election is not a foregone conclusion because times are tough.”

Reflecting those hard times, the swanky Westin Copley Place ballroom - where the subsequent $500-a-head fund-raiser was held - was “about two-thirds full,” with about 400 people attending, according to press pool reports.

Despite the dismal box office, Patrick shouted to attendees, “You fired up? Ready to go?"

Now, to the Globe:

President Obama, on a whirlwind visit to Boston yesterday, linked Governor Deval Patrick’s political fate to the fate of the nation, telling Patrick supporters at a downtown fund-raiser that the governor had made the kind of hard choices the country needs to make to put itself on a stronger course.

Sweeping into town for the fund-raiser and to deliver a speech on clean energy at MIT, Obama said Patrick deserves credit for implementing near-universal health care, investing in education, and making the alternative energy and biotech industries a priority. If voters fail to recognize this hard work in next year’s state election, the president said, it will not bode well for the United States.

“When the people of states reward the courageous and hard-working governors like that, that has implications for our nation as a whole," Obama said at a 125-person reception at the Westin Copley Place.

Otherwise, Obama said, other political leaders will say “then maybe I shouldn’t, as a member of Congress or as a senator, take some chances and take some tough stands in pursuit of that same vision."

The fund-raiser, composed of the reception and a larger ballroom gathering, demonstrated one of Patrick’s advantages in what is expected to be a difficult reelection campaign: having the president of the United States, a close friend and political soul mate, shower him with praise and help him raise money. Patrick aides said the fund-raiser would bring in more than $600,000 for him, running mate Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, and the Massachusetts Democratic Party - although the events appeared to not be fully booked.

“There’s not a tougher time to be governor than right now," Obama said.

Several audience members shouted out, “Or President!"

Crittenden's blog post also notes the variation in the treatment of protests that occurred outside the events.

On a separate note, the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly made a unique and important observation on Friday about the president's proposal for state-controlled health care:

Although he has traveled to New England often and speaks about health care virtually every week, Obama has not held a single event focused on the Massachusetts experiment.

The "Massachusetts experiment" is state-run CommonwealthCare, also referred to as RomneyCare because it was originally championed by then-alleged Republican Bay State Governor Mitt Romney.

Obama hasn't been touting the Massachusetts system, despite the fact that Patrick, the beneficiary of Obama's fund-raising efforts last night, has gone out of his way to praise it. Patrick even wrote a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed calling CommonwealthCare/RomneyCare "a health reform model" for the nation.

The President knows better. If the Massachusetts system's cost explosion and inevitable rendezvous with serious rationing were more widely known, it would hurt rather than help Obama's pet statist cause. Thus, it's best for him to keep the Bay State's "grand experiment" under wraps.

Image was obtained from Governor Patrick's web site.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.