The tsunami of commercials from Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff drowning television viewers in the metro Atlanta media market is distorting some basic facts about the contest, and the general tone of the media coverage isn’t helping inform anyone either. As a former reporter, political consultant and a news consumer in Atlanta for more than 40 years, I’ve never seen any candidate receive deeper, wetter kisses from the Atlanta press corps than the ones they’re giving Jon Ossoff every day. His fiancée ought to be worried, because every news director, assignment editor and reporter in this town wants to have Ossoff’s baby. It’s not incompetence as much as a character trait –Atlanta media is so deep in the tank for Ossoff they’ve become like the goldfish who don’t know that water is wet.
A recent case was local coverage of a joint appearance by Handel and Ossoff at a breakfast for Jewish War Veterans in Dunwoody. Handel spoke first -and adamantly- in support of the Taylor Force Act, which would strip US aid to organizations that fund terrorism, including the Palestinian Authority, which uses American tax dollars to compensate families of suicide bombers, and gives bonuses based on the victim count. (The Taylor Force Act, named for an American veteran murdered in Israel, has broad support in Congress and is so a priori obvious it shouldn’t even be an issue.)
Ossoff, speaking after Handel, mouthed some fluff about “…aid is leverage and I’d be interested to work with the State Department and the government of Israel to ensure that no U.S. aid that flows to the PA finds its way to the families of those that have killed Israelis.” That’s a lot of words to say what should be painfully obvious: Don’t. Give. Aid. To. Terrorists. And don’t try to “leverage” them either –leverage is just another word for “negotiate.”
Handel wants aid to terrorists to stop immediately. Ossoff wants to negotiate and send very stern letters to them or something. But the local coverage, astonishingly, reported that Handel proposed cutting aid -to Israel. I suppose there may be a few reporters who don’t know the difference between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, but they should stick to writing for their middle-school newspapers.
One reporter getting one fact 100% wrong in one story might not seem like a big deal. But 45% of the ENTIRE JEWISH POPULATION OF GEORGIA lives in the 6th District, so in this case, this fact being reported correctly matters more than a little.
Jon Ossoff is getting such fawning, whorish media treatment because he’s the shiny new object. He’s young and well-spoken, and has experience working for the dippy Hank Johnson and the civil rights museum-piece John Lewis. He’s as cute as a speckled puppy with almost as much experience. He’s Robert Redford in “The Candidate” –handsome as hell and one inch deep.
Karen Handel, on the other hand, is a known entity. She served as Georgia’s Secretary of State, and managed to lead that office into the internet era without accidentally releasing voter data to anybody. She was Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Fulton County –and actually balanced that beleaguered government’s budget. Handel has a proven, demonstrated record of conservatism, competence and honest public service. Which makes her “boring” to the news media.
Well, good government is boring. It’s supposed to be boring. And shame on the Atlanta news media for not informing their viewers that. Because good, boring government is far more important than wrong news. Even if it is exciting and shiny.