There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The losing candidates in D.C.’s 1994 mayoral election griped, with much justification, that the D.C. news media focused excessively on Marion Barry’s comeback and ignored policy issues. John Ray, Sharon Pratt Kelly, and Carol Schwartz may find an iota of consolation in Phyllis Kaniss’ The Media and the Mayor’s Race: The Failure of Urban Political Reporting (Indiana University Press). Kaniss examines—in numbing detail—the coverage of Philadelphia’s 1991 mayoral race, which was won by Democrat Edward Rendell; in chapter after dreary chapter, she investigates which election stories made the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s front page, how many minutes each TV newscast devoted to campaign events, and similar esoterica. After almost 400 tedious pages, Kaniss unveils her amazing conclusion: Journalists covering local elections pay a lot of attention to candidates’ strategies and personality quirks, but pay very little attention to issues. Wow. Perhaps in her next book, Kaniss will discover that politicians sometimes perform favors for campaign contributors.