Friday, April 06, 2007

Campaign Fund-Raising: The Last Refuge of a Slacker

As this is being written, the distinguished panel of journalsim observers on WGBH's "Greater Boston" is examining media reporting of campaign finance stories in the time honored "Threat or Menace?" mode. All of them are persons I know and admire. For my money, Joe Sciacca was the best writer at the Herald when I worked there.

The panel whiffed on the issue all the same. The answer to the question "Why do political reporters obsess about campaign finance reports" is both easy and too embarrassing for journalists to admit in public. The reason so many of these stories are written or broadcast is that they allow political reporters to get paid for doing little or no work.

Presidential candidates MUST file quarterly fund-raising reports. It's the law. They are bulky volumes which give even an uncreative reporter a good week's worth of pieces without lifting a finger. It's public record, baby. You can download it off the Internet. No phone calls, no spin, no stonewalling, no work.

As was proven by the presidencies of John Connally and Phil Gramm, fundraising has only a tendential relationship to the identity of the winner of a presidential election, or a winner of any election. All a candidate needs is enough money to compete. All the 2008 candidates have that at the present time-even Dennis Kucinich. Further reporting of fund-raising only reveals the reporter's unwillingness to mingle with the scary American electorate.


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