The ambush tour

The ambush tour

PE Bias Grade : B

By: Allen Nitschelm on September 5, 2020 | Article Review

This is a review of the following Boston Globe Article:
Article Title Lawmaker barred from mail processing plants
Date 09/05/2020
Article Link Boston Globe ( Page A2 )
Syndicated From Washington Post
Journalist Jacob Bogage
Article Summary

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz pays a surprise visit to a postal distribution center and is not allowed in.

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Today’s Boston Globe recounts the remarkable story of how the print media and the postal workers union conspired with Democratic leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz to help the Biden campaign. The Globe’s page 2 article falsely describes the confrontation between the group and security at a regional postal facility in Florida when the Congresswoman paid a visit without an appointment. She tried visiting a second facility and also got turned away.

The article’s headline correctly states that Wasserman Schultz was not allowed in, but that was because she hadn’t made proper arrangements. She had no appointment. You can’t go into a secure facility for your own private tour without an appointment, obviously.

Not only that, Wasserman Schultz was told in advance that she would not be allowed in.  The post office managers told her they would be happy to give her a tour but they couldn’t do so at 4 am with just a few hours notice. Instead of acting like a civilized adult, Wasserman Schultz tells her co-conspirator, the media reporter who was there (presumably a South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter or an AP reporter, both of whom are credited in the photo of the confrontation), that she wasn’t trying to make an appointment, she was going to just barge in. “It wasn’t a request” for an appointment, she says. “It was a notification” that she was coming. I wonder if her South Florida constituents can visit the Congresswoman under the same set of rules, or would her office call security?

Wasserman Schultz is not in the executive branch, she is a Congresswoman. They have oversight of the post office, but they don’t oversee the management of the post office. She can’t make unauthorized visits, period.

The article is actually quite honest about the political nature of this ambush, but it does falsely describe it in the first paragraph. It calls Wasserman Schultz’ visits “scheduled tours.” That is just wrong. The article goes on to describe anything but scheduled tours. But leading with this false information in the first paragraph and only correcting it in the seventh paragraph is poor journalism, and the error obviously undercuts the entire premise of the article.

The media is trying to attack President Trump indirectly here, as if he told the post office not to let Wasserman Schultz in, probably because he is hiding pallets of mail from her. But if the media were honest, and if the editors at the Sun Sentinel, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and all the other papers across the country who will end up running this partisan story were doing their jobs, this would be about the entitlement of the Congresswoman and maybe even her “White privilege.”

Wasserman Schultz even hints that she knew she needed an appointment. Notice how she parses her description in this paragraph:

‘‘I’ve been there before,’’ Wasserman Schultz said. ‘‘I wasn’t told that I had to give any lengthy notice or that there was any rules. So what I did was I decided that I was going to go anyway.’’ (emphasis mine)

So calling a few hours in advance for a 4 am visit is obviously not “lengthy notice.” Lengthy notice is asking for an appointment and being given one weeks away, not a few hours. She also says she didn’t know there were any rules. Like, she didn’t know she had to be escorted or pass security? (right.)

This article is an example of a setup, not just by Wasserman Schultz, but by the postal workers union who are fighting cost-cutting measures by the Postmaster General, and by the media, which accompanied Wasserman Schultz on this non-appointment and are just outraged that the post office wouldn’t let her in. Obviously, they hoped the presence of the media would make the postal managers buckle under the pressure. Shameless behavior by all involved in this stunt for publicity.

This article is a tough one for me to grade. The media is obviously complicit in the ambush, but that falls within journalistic norms for investigative reporting. The use of the phrase “scheduled tours” is obviously false, but the rest of the article makes it abundantly clear that Wasserman Schultz was acting like a prima donna and wanted special treatment and was upset she didn’t get it. And the involvement of the postal workers union with their own ax to grind is self-serving.

The newspaper staff who accompanied Wasserman Schultz should have declined to run this piece since there is no “post office” news of note in the piece, and should have told her they would accompany her back when she had a real appointment.

——=——

Allen Nitschelm is publisher of PublicEditorMA.com. He critiques the Boston Globe, mostly focusing on the bias in their news reporting. News articles are graded for bias, and the website has a listing of the average bias ratings for all reporters reviewed. See our website for more information and the four categories of articles we publish.

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