The latest blog-themed piece in the Maine press--this one courtesy of Justin Ellis at the Portland Press Herald--is no worse than the other articles on the subject.
But Ellis and his editors are guilty of the same sin committed in previous reports: He creates a false balance that masks the truth. Here's his opening line:
A comment on Daily Kos says Maine's Republican Sen. Susan Collins wants another terrorist attack on American soil, while the Maine Web Report says Democratic Rep. Tom Allen is in bed with hateful left-wing extremists.Seems like everyone's even, right?
In reality, of course, it's silly to juxtapose an anonymous comment on a giant community site with the considered commentary of the Collins campaign's official internet strategist.
But that's what Ellis does in his first paragraph.
Upon close scrutiny of the article, it becomes apparent that Ellis and his editors know that it's a false balance--and even that they want their readers to know this.
But they've decided to cloak the truth in the neutral-seeming, on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand reporting style that's so popular in political reporting these days. And so Ellis' real take on the situation is only apparent if you give the piece an especially close read.
On a related note, I'd like to make a point I'm surprised hasn't been made elsewhere: It's pretty obvious, now, that Dutson is working, with the Collins camp's approval, to make this election about the supporters of the candidates rather than the candidates positions on the issues.
It will be interesting to see whether, and to what extent, the Allen camp engages him on that level. But my hunch is that they'll be smart enough not to take the bait.