Sunday, March 14, 2010

Maine story updates

A few recent developments in stories I've been following:

Bizarre Editorial: Media watchers have been debating the merits of the Portland Press Herald's lengthy series on the efforts of a Maine vessel to deliver relief supplies to Haiti, independent of established crisis agencies and channels. But today's development is genuinely jaw-dropping.

I don't fault the paper for embedding Bill Nemitz aboard the Sea Hunter: it was a newsworthy story with a local connection. But I agree with the Phoenix's Jeff Inglis that Nemitz's coverage suffered from astonishing credulity. He seemed as surprised as Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks that Homeland Security is humorless about rules enforcement or that the DIY relief mission was targeted for shake downs by officials from one of the most infamously corrupt governments in the hemisphere.

I would have let this pass without comment, but this morning the Press Herald and her sister papers carried one of the more unhinged editorials I've ever read in a Maine daily. "Where was Obama?" it asks, blasting the leader of the free world for not having intervened in the situation, which was already benefiting from the attentions of two U.S senators and at least one of our Congressional representatives. It continues: "President Obama is renowned for involving himself in everything from local law enforcement issues to college football rankings – all part of his portfolio as president, he believes – so couldn’t he have picked up the phone and let the Haitians know that he was not happy about their treatment of Greg Brooks and his crew?"

The editorial's addled tone and lack of perspective were such that one Press Herald critic, the pseudonymous blogger T. Cushing Munjoy, took the paper to task for allowing hackers to put up what he mistook for a satirical article. Indeed, whoever authored the editorial is disturbingly unworldly, surprised that Haiti's predators are willing to feed on resources meant for their prey and that the President of the United States is not some all-watching guardian angel, personally intervening in every injustice anyone encounters anywhere in the world. But despite that, the paper doesn't want for self-regard, finding the time to praise themselves for having "expertly chronicled" the Sea Hunter's journey.

Once again: wake up Press Herald, this state needs you.

Laurels for Cloutier: Former Portland mayor Jim Cloutier -- who consistently misportrayed the condition of the Maine State Pier in statements to the press, public, and fellow councilors while pushing for it to be handed over to private developers -- is being feted by the Portland Democratic City Committee next month. Cloutier and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree are the honorees of the annual Harry S. Truman Awards Dinner on April 17.

Ocean Gateway Rescue? Governor John Baldacci may rescue Portland's money-losing cruise-ship-terminal-cruise-ships-can't-use, which needs $7 to $8 million for a the creation of a mega-berth. Baldacci, the Press Herald reports, has included the funds in the $79 million transportation bond he hopes voters will approve.

People from other parts of Maine may not care that the terminal, which was built under faulty economic assumptions, is costing city taxpayers about $400,000 a year. But they may not realize that state taxpayers put in even more money for the construction of the terminal, whose economic benefits are believed to largely accrue to surrounding towns in York and Cumberland County.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think Munjoy really believed that was a hack. But by saying so he made the point that the editorial was completely unhinged from what a reputable paper would publish, and allowed him to revel in disingenuous snark. What fun!