Chafee and the media

Governor Chafee has taken a lot of flack today for comments he made in an interview with Buddy Cianci blaming the media for his poor approval ratings.

"We don't have a Walter Cronkite out there," he said, "somebody that just calms everybody down and says, 'Look.'"

"Instead, for some reason, the media just gets themselves whipped up," he continued, "who's the piñata of the day, who's the punching bag of the day. And the respect that used to be afforded to leaders [has] eroded across the country, not just Rhode Island."

I don't pretend to know what, precisely, Chafee was thinking when he made the remark. But I do know this: the Chafee team feels the governor hasn't gotten his due in the press.

While the media fetes Providence Mayor Angel Taveras for turning around a city on the brink and Treasurer Gina Raimondo for taking on the state's seemingly intractable pension problem, aides say, it has ignored Chafee's own economic stewardship success: taming a significant budget deficit and signing the pension bill.

There's something to the claim. The trouble is, Raimondo gets credit for the highest profile measure on Chafee's watch: pension reform. And the governor's funny combination of reserve and gaffery ensures that his accomplishments are both underplayed and overshadowed.

Case in point: the comments that inspired this post.

Indeed, the governor not only made a ham-handed (if not entirely unjustified) attempt to blame his poor ratings on the media, he capped it off with a claim that interviewer Cianci - reviled by much of the mainstream press - is doing "a good job."


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