Take MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow live on location from Newark, Del., the site of a hotly contested U.S. Senate race. Mix that with the local beat reporter of the state’s largest newspaper that openly admitted her role model is Helen Thomas. The result: Unfavorable coverage for the conservative Republican in said race.
On the Oct. 5 broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,’ host Rachel Maddow wanted to give her viewers a taste of the local Delaware media, since U.S. Senate Republican nominee Christine O’Donnell had announced she would go with a more local media strategy in her upcoming contest with the state’s Democratic nominee, Chris Coons. Appearing on her show were Ron Williams, a political columnist and reporter Ginger Gibson, both of the Wilmington News-Journal.
Williams has made his view clear on O’Donnell over the past few months with his columns. Even in his most recent column he cast aspersions on O’Donnell, but that’s what columnists do. But his colleague at the News-Journal, Gibson lamented her inability to have access to the O’Donnell campaign.
“I’ve not encountered a campaign where it is as difficult as it has been at this point to talk to the candidate who had access to information from the campaign,” Gibson said. “In terms of covering it over the primary and into the general election, I’ve been to a lot of candidate forums and I listened to her speak in a lot of places in order to be able to convey to our readers what she’s doing and what’s she’s saying on the campaign trail.”
But this is a theme with Gibson. In a seemingly juvenile March 2008 open letter for her college paper, Louisiana State University’s The Daily Reveille, Gibson blasted Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for not being willing to answer a handful of agenda driven questions including ones about gay hiring practices at bars in Louisiana.
“[H]ow can the office - headed by a governor who triumphed the state coming together to reform ethics laws - refuse to acknowledge one of the 10 largest daily newspapers in the state because someone there disagrees?” Gibson wrote on March 10, 2008. “Maybe none of the above is true, and she just refuses to acknowledge us. If that's the case, maybe you should save the state her $85,000-a-year salary or find someone to be a ‘press secretary’ that is willing to work with the press - all of it. The repeated refusal by your press office to acknowledge the student newspaper seems indicative of a prevailing mentality, one that puts college newspapers - and to a larger extent, college students - at the bottom of your priority list.”
Observers have noted Gibson’s repeated run-ins with the O’Donnell campaign and her willingness to criticize the Republican nominee time and time again. She has been labeled as a “liberal hit piece writer” and has been advised to find a hobby to distract her from her obsession over the Tea Party. Still, Gibson complained to Maddow that O’Donnell has been too busy to talk to her.
“They’ve made several arguments recently that she’s been very busy and unable to hold interviews,” Gibson said. “In the pastimes she was busy, unhappy with coverage was another argument they made. And sometimes, it’s just been that no answer at all.”
With Gibson’s track record, it’s no wonder.