Sunday, August 07, 2011

False equivalence at the Tennessean

For the past few months the political beat writers around the city have amplified the organization of supporters of the Mayor's plan to sell off the Fairgrounds, even though there was little or no evidence that they had a popular movement behind them. Even the ultimate test of a landslide referendum win seems to prompt no change in the reportage.

Michael Cass's report on last week's election keeps up the false equivalence as if demolition supporters swarmed the polls to the same degree that advocates of a community-based master plan did:

the century-old fairgrounds ... has divided neighbors and other residents throughout the city. The fight has pitted people who love the fairgrounds' history and affordable activities against those who believe it's mostly dead space and a noisy nuisance when cars are zooming around

Judging by the 71%-29% landslide of the referendum, the Fairgrounds no more divided neighbors than Karl Dean himself did. And yet, Cass never brings up Karl Dean's divisiveness in his report on the Mayor's race. Instead, Cass ponders how the popular Mayor will get the extra 6 council votes the referendum mandates.

Unlike the relatively positive media spin that Fairgrounds opponents like South Nashville Action People and Neighbors for Progress received during the past year, the Mayor's no-name opponents got next to none. There is no telling how media coverage of SNAP/NFP motivated people to vote against the referendum and there is no telling how low the percentage of "against" referendum votes would have been had SNAP/NFP received the same meager coverage that Karl Dean's opponents did.

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