'Tote Board' is destroying America?

Letters to the Boston editor, September 19, 2008
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  September 17, 2008

Steven Stark, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself this question: what good does your column do for voters?

The horse-race style “coverage” is handled well enough in the corporate media. Do you really think your stats and pontifications — which seem to be nothing more than a redux of 24-hour news coverage — add anything of any value to the mix?

Does your column help us to understand the platforms of the candidates? Does it help us to understand the root causes of the issues that we face in our daily lives?

Rehashing polls done by corporate-owned news media, with margins of error large enough that they are statistically insignificant, does not aid the average voter who is struggling to pay the bills and is looking for real solutions to the problems they face in their life.

Why not give us something to think about?

The inane fluff you publish distracts from the fact that there’s a war going on. The US government is trillions of dollars in debt; we have a growing trade deficit with just about everybody; the Federal Reserve is destroying the power of the US dollar; and in America nine times the number of people who died on 9/11 die every year simply because they lack access to adequate health care, or were denied coverage.

Both McCain and Obama both want to put your tax dollars directly in the pocket of health-insurance corporations. But of course, you’re not going to let us know about that. You’re just going to tell us what we think about gaffes, petty branding disputes (Change? Hope? Puppies? Apple Pie?), and other such drama more appropriate to high-school lunchrooms.

Asher Platts
Gorham, Maine

STEVEN STARK RESPONDS While I don’t agree with all the particulars of your note, I agree strongly with the thrust: there is too much horse-race coverage. I try to be different in my takes and, in fact, don’t read much of what’s out there. But if I’m just repeating the same things others are, as you contend, then I’m truly sorry. That is unforgivable.

In my blog, I’ve tried to open things up to other voices and opinions, on the ground that I’m hardly the last word on anything. I’d be delighted to have you submit a post so that you feel your opinions and take on things is better represented.

Finally, I’ve received some private mail from readers less vocal than yourself that my coverage sometimes seems slanted against Obama. I think they have a point, too. In a column in which I try to assess strategy objectively without regard to my own political predilections, I’ve tended to focus more on how Obama can improve than can McCain — in the hope, perhaps, that the advice might seep in somehow. (If you hadn’t guessed, I privately favor Obama.) Anyway, thanks for writing.

Due to an editing error, the cover of this past week’s Fall Preview issue misidentified the museum that will be featuring the work of Tara Donovan. Her exhibit, “Tara Donovan,” will be shown at the ICA. We regret the mix-up.

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