Bill Nelson – Campaignin’ On A Prayer
With his campaign struggling the Paper Of Record Props Democrat Bill Nelson
It has already been a tough week for the New York Times. The vaunted news paper was embroiled in an identity politics scandal surrounding the hiring of tech reporter Sarah Jeong to its editorial board. After defending her inclusion an avalanche of accusations of an institutional bias has commenced.
The paper is doing little to dispel the charges.
The upcoming midterm elections are of particular interest to Democrats, and The Times seems to be working on their behalf. The party is counting on more than the usual opposition favorability in off-year elections to confirm their virulent animosity to President Trump. Down in Florida however there are signs that the expected Blue Wave may not be the tsunami of support they anticipate.
Sitting three term Senator Bill Nelson finds himself in a serious battle with GOP Governor Rick Scott, who has termed out of his run in the state capital. Scott is enjoying better name recognition, is leading in the polls, and is backed with more substantial funding. Democrats are deeply concerned with retaining Nelson’s seat in a Senate of which they eagerly intend to flip control.
According to an entirely promotional bit of reporting, as The Times describes, Nelson “a three-term incumbent, has been pushed into the unexpected position of underdog.” is in need of help. Thus the paper steps in to white-knight for the lagging Democrat. This leads to the amusing headline, where reporter Patricia Mezzei gives us deep insights in order for us to “MEET BILL NELSON”. It speaks volumes that the man who has served the state in Washington D.C. since the 1970s needs to be introduced to his constituents.
Nelson has a Senate career with very light distinctions. He has become entrenched via public exposure. Residing in the Orlando area he has enjoyed support from the Hispanic residents in the central counties of the state. He is also adept at currying favor from the electronic media. This came to the surface during the tragic shooting at a South Florida high school.
The day and night of the Parkland, Florida shooting, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Nelson made the rounds of the media outlets. As many as he could book. The major news networks, the cable news nets, and even local affiliates were graced with the appearance of Nelson’s concern.
One local appearance summed it up, when the anchor spoke gravely and, after mentioning the desire to not politicize the shooting, said “What are you going to promise the people of South Florida if they were to elect you to another term?” Nelson gave lip service to not wanting to campaign off of the tragedy — and then promptly offered up his campaign platform on the matter.
This is the type of curried favor Nelson has long counted on with the press, and it does not take long for the pom-poms to come out in the lengthy Times PR piece. Mazzei details a stop where Nelson delves into one of the current campaign issues, dealing with large algae blooms on the west coast of the state leading to mass fish kills and affecting other wildlife. Nelson and Scott have been trading barbs, and responsibility over this issue.
Next you see where The Times is desperately trying to wallpaper over the huge holes in the Senator’s drywall. Dutifully mentioned is the controversial national immigration policy, and the attempt to buttress Nelson on this is blatant, referring to a ginned up episode down in the city of Homestead:
Mr. Nelson made headlines when he led an effort to inspect a large shelter for migrant children in South Florida.
Note that this does not mention the results of that “inspection”. Here the desperation of the media is on full display. That choice of wording above is calculated, and entirely misleading.
The immigration issue is one that Nelson stumbled into and managed to step on rakes. In June Nelson and Debbie Wasserman Schultz staged a surprise visit to the country’s second largest immigrant minor holding facility. The “surprise” was on the facility, but not for the dozens of media folks that managed to get advance word of the visit, arriving on site to record the controversy.
While the opportunistic politicians were initially rebuffed by the staff Nelson expressed outrage and dismay this immigrant housing was taking place, and said he had only just learned of the existence of the facility that week. This lead to two problems. Nelson had voted in 2007 in favor of the immigrant law that was currently being enforced. Secondly, when this facility had been opened – during the Obama administration – Governor Scott notified all congressional offices. That included the office of Bill Nelson.
But still, what of the conditions?! Nelson, posing sternly for the gathered cameras that day, intoned his worry that a thousand or more children had been separated from their families and were sleeping on the floors. As I had written about in June, a few days after the posturing, the directors of the facility arranged for politicians and press to go inside and see the reality. It was not as stark as Nelson anticipated.
For starters, of the more than 1,100 minors that were cared for on site, only 70 were determined to be seperated from parents. That means 95% came to this country unaccompanied, and we as a nation were tending to them. The press found that they were staying in dorm conditions, sleeping in beds inside rooms, and each child was provided a week’s worth of clothing.
The children were well fed, attending classes, and being taught English. They had art projects, and played sports outside. About the harshest condition noted was many kids were seen wearing sweaters inside; this was due to many being unaccustomed to central air conditioning.
These conditions were reported by — The New York Times.
The reporter that day — the very same, Patricia Mazzei.
(her threaded tweets here detailed her visit)
Given that no hysterical results could be bellowed about following such a visit, the issue at the Homestead facility died a very quiet death in the media cycle. Try as the Times may however, Nelson is given credit for — creating a controversy, we presume.
The swelling election cycle is only going to heat up. The coming months will reveal the other candidates in need of media support.