November 29, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Republican debate in Fla. gets editors’ vote for Page One

Accurate or inaccurate? Trivial or significant? A majority of respondents in Harvard’s National Leadership Index said they don’t trust press coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign. In a September survey, Americans called coverage biased and too focused on trivial issues.

GOP presidential candidates debated last night in Florida. How did newspapers cover the debate and other campaign news? Let’s take a look.

The CNN/YouTube debate dominated the front page of the St. Petersburg Times. It pictured Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, whose exchanges over immigration led the main story. “Low moments aplenty, and nary a champion,” said the headline on a secondary piece by the Times’ political editor. The Tampa Tribune devoted one column to the story: “Attacks heat up at GOP debate.”

“Political fists fly in GOP debate,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix said. “Sparks” and “fireworks” were descriptors other newspapers used. “GOP debate turns volatile,” The Boston Globe said.

The Seattle Times focused on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: “Jabs at Huckabee throw him firmly into GOP fray.” The Los Angeles Times concentrated on the debate format: “Public inspires intense debate.”

Newsday on Long Island followed up on a Politico.com report about Giuliani’s mayoral expenses: “Hamptons $huffle.” “Giuliani trips billed to obscure agencies,” the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester said. The Des Moines (Iowa) Register highlighted a response: “Giuliani discounts report about security expenses.”

Democrats were not forgotten. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on another kind of debate: “Should I vote for Obama because of my race … or vote for Clinton because of my gender?” The Washington Post looked at Internet rumors alleging that Sen. Barack Obama is a “Muslim plant.” And the Detroit Free Press examined political donations by the auto industry and found “Detroit 3 swing support to Dems.”

kkennedy@freedomforum.org Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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