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Connecticut Countdown, The Media And Political Outcomes

October 21, 2022
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Here richly, with ridiculous display,
The Politician's corpse was laid away.
While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged
 – Hilaire Belloc

A news item written by Dean Pagani in The Laurel tells us the Hartford Courant will no longer be endorsing candidates for office at the state level. “It would be better,” Pagani writes, “if the Courant and Tribune [the paper’s owner] just told the truth. Our [Courant] staff has been cut dramatically, no one reads the editorial page, so we are focusing on the news we can best deliver.”

Well sure, honesty is always the best policy, but Pagani has said far too little. The Courant, the ownership of which has shifted hands over the years, has been outflanked by other news conglomerates. Courant reporters have either retired or drifted off to greener pastures. The conglomeratization of news is a serious problem. Big, in the news business, is not always better; it is simply more remunerative. Large news organization can increase profits by cutting staff and relying on resources outside Connecticut for its news filler.

Connecticut, it may be argued, is a small state, and it needs small and aggressive media outlets. Every time a reporter leaves a local media, we lose memory and brainpower. Blowing up the editorial department at the Courant may not have the effect indented by the paper’s overlords. On a state level, opinionizing will simply leech into the news pages. This already has happened across the nation, a decades old de-evolutionary process.

Civil War journalism, we all know, was little more than partisan reporting. There were, at the time, both Democrat and Republican newspapers. In the post-modern period, we appear to have reprised the post-Civil War media model.

To the extent that Connecticut news organizations do not strike an attitude of opposition to the reigning power – the Democrat Party in Connecticut, especially in its blighted urban sectors – it will be enticingly absorbed by the reigning power. Over time, a pragmatic, business policy of non-resistant to a single party hegemonic  state makes news outlets little more than party propaganda instruments, and papers wholly owned subsidiaries of the power of force.

Part of this writer’s onerous duties is to watch carefully for signs of true media independence but, sadly, he cannot recall many recent editorials critical of any notable Democrat politician of long standing in Connecticut, unless, to vary an abandoned phrase no longer in use, the beloved politician has been “caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.”

Even then, given a supportive media, there are paths around such inconvenient setbacks. The news cycle is short, life is long and, for some favored politicians in Connecticut, public service ends at the grave, provided the undying politician is a much pampered progressive. Senator Martin Looney, the President Pro Tem of the state Senate has been in public office more than 40 years. U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, for two decades Connecticut’s Consumer Protection Attorney General – look for pictures of him daily in your daily newspaper -- has been in public office for 45 years.

Here is one glaring example of a big city politician in Connecticut who has survived a recent political tempest. The Mayor of Bridgeport Connecticut is Joe Ganim. Upon his return from a stretch in prison, he was re-elected Mayor. Still in the grip of Democrat Party machinery, Bridgeport is odd that way. Ganim had been convicted of sixteen counts of corruption related activity, for which he spent seven years of a nine year sentence under lock and key. Having been re-elected Mayor, he then decided to run for Governor of Connecticut, and this writer decided to poke him in the ribs. So, he wrote about Ganim in 2017:

No one knows exactly why the good people of Bridgeport elected Mr. Ganim to represent their city as its mayor so soon after his release from prison. The shadow of the prison was yet upon him when he defeated petitioning candidate Mary Jane Foster by a two to one margin, having previously disposed of incumbent Democratic Mayor Bill Finch in a hotly contested primary. Prior to his incarceration, Mr. Ganim had been a successful mayor. Somewhere along the way Mr. Finch lost the backing of Bridgeport kingmaker Mario Testa, an indispensable political shaker and mover in Bridgeport. Terry Cowgill, writing in CTNewsJunkie, attributes Mr. Ganim’s short journey from prison to the mayor’s office to the “hypermasculine… testicular fortitude” of Mr. Ganim, but Mr. Ganim’s overweening ambition does not quite explain why Bridgeporters favored his bid for mayor; perhaps they figured … better the crook you know. Then too, Ganim was not a Republican crook. Democratic crooks have nine lives, Republican crooks [as the twice convicted aborted career of former Governor John Rowland has shown] have at best two. Blueness in Connecticut’s major cities has its privileges.

The column, refreshingly contrarian, likely was not printed. For as long as this writer has been posting in Connecticut Commentary – the oldest political blog of its kind in the state – he has been sending the postings, columns really, to nearly all news editorial pages in Connecticut  save the Hartford Courant, more than twenty publications. Publication of his columns during the Malloy and Lamont administrations have been, to put the matter politely, sketchy.

Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.

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