by David Safier
I criticized the Star's Brady McCombs for his article comparing ads run by the Democratic and Republican National committees for the Barber-Kelly race. I have also said I think McCombs is a good reporter who hasn't had time to get up to speed on the political beat, which he began when Giffords announced she was resigning. The first days of a high stakes, heated special election is not the best time to get your journalistic bearings on a new assignment.
So I want to credit McCombs for a far better article in today's Star about Jesse Kelly's Thursday press conference. It's not a fluff piece or a hit piece. It's a reasonably honest, informative article. An alert reader can find enough material to understand Kelly's position and to see his problems with consistency and coherence.
Disregarding the headline, which is not written by the reporter, here's how the article begins:
A group of senior citizens said Thursday they believe Republican Jesse Kelly is the best candidate to protect the benefits they've earned.
About 30 seniors stood behind Kelly at a press conference Thursday to show their support for the candidate, who has been hammered by his opponent for remarks he made during his failed attempt to win the Congressional District 8 seat in 2010 about wanting to phase out Medicare and privatize and eliminate Social Security.
That's a pretty good summary of the "seniors love me" setup of Kelly's press conference and the points the Barber campaign has made about Kelly's 2010 "privatize and phase them out" position on Medicare and Social Security.
The seniors supporting Kelly get their say, as does Kelly. But the Barber camp is given equal time to rebut Kelly's arguments. And, while the McCombs' article I criticized quoted Kelly's website position on the programs as a factual statement, this one notes that Kelly recently removed a pasage from the site talking about privatizing Social Security, and added that Kelly's spokesperson wouldn't give an answer when questioned about why the passage was deleted.
Toward the end of the article, Barber's spokesperson, gets in her best recent line:
"He's trying to have his own Etch a Sketch moment," said Barber's spokeswoman, Jessica Schultz. "He's really trying to reverse himself here."
Barber is holding a press conference next Monday which will also be about Southern Arizona's seniors. I await McCombs' article to see if it bends over backwards to "balance" with this article about Kelly -- i.e., create a false equivalence -- or if it deals with the press conference and Barber's stands on the issues on their own terms.
BONUS VIDEO: You can watch Kelly's latest 30 second video below the fold. I know I'm not the intended audience, but to me the thing is so transparent, it borders on self parody. It ends with -- I'm not making this up -- Jesse Kelly and his grandpa having a moment out of a 50s TV show: Lassie, maybe?
Grandpa (clutching Jesse's arm in fear): Dont let Ron Barber cut my benefits, Jesse, I've earned them.
Jesse (looking gramps straight in the eye): Don't worry, grandpa, I won't.
Watch for yourself.