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Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Mexico Political Blogs

New Mexico Political Blogs

Political news from Santa Fe, NM and the annual NM legislative session at the Roundhouse can be found on several blogs.   Here are the two “must reads” for those who are trying to keep track of what is going on in New Mexico statewide politics:

Another source of information on the state of NM budget and spending in Santa Fe can be found at the Rio Grande Foundation    This NM think tank also has a new site to track bills at the Roundhouse that can be found on the web at     In addition, the Rio Grande Foundation has links to other resources that allow voters, taxpayers and citizens of New Mexico to be better informed on state government.

© 2009, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media 



Friday, January 23, 2009

Keeping the Press Happy

Keeping the Press Happy

As posted in an earlier Four Corners Media blog (January 12th), the love affair with the legacy media and the Obama “spin the news” team was bound to be tested.    The event that had White House orchestrated media control was the reenactment of the President’s swearing in.   Only a selected few in the media attended, and no live video or audio was allowed from the press pool.    The White House press corps membership is composed of the elite reporters of the Legacy Media, many of them being groomed for featured news anchor jobs or new programs by their news

You’ll note that the WHPC site has a window “Obama Administration Twitter Coverage” built into the lower part of the home page.

            Here is the view from the Politico  on the media frustration with team Obama this first week in office.

            A growing media frustration with Barack Obama’s team spilled into the open at Thursday’s briefing, with reporters accusing the White House of stifling access to his oath re-do and giving Obama’s first interview as president to a multi-million dollar inauguration sponsor. 

Veteran CBS newsman Bill Plante was one of the most vocal critics, questioning the White House’s handling of Wednesday night’s second swearing in – which was covered by just a four-reporter print pool that didn’t include a news photographer or TV correspondent. 

He also asked new press secretary Robert Gibbs why ABC, which paid millions to host the DC Neighborhood Ball, was granted the only inauguration day interview with President Obama – a move he equated to “pay to play.” 

“We have a tradition here of covering the president,” said Plante, who is covering his fourth administration.

            Later in the day, the Obama team was scrambling to get the dance steps right with the White House press corps.   The Prez himself made a surprise visit to the cramped rooms the media works out of reporting on the White House beat.

            President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question. 

Asked how he could reconcile a strict ban on lobbyists in his administration with a Deputy Defense Secretary nominee who lobbied for Raytheon, Obama interrupted with a knowing smile on his face. 

"Ahh, see," he said, "I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can't end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled every time I come down here."

            Welcome to Washington DC and your new role as the President of the United States.   Team Obama is trying to make the shift from an image building campaign and sanitized press relationship to the rough and tumble of a national press corps looking for stories, not photo ops.  If you watched or heard former President Bush’s last news conference, these legacy media reporters play for keeps.   And Team Obama is being welcomed into their world.  

            It is a dance, between the media (4th estate) and the President (POTUS 44) that is being ironed out and played out in the public eye.  Historically, the POTUS and the White House Press Corps have had hot and cold relationships.   Each president handles the press differently, including setting up an Office of the Press Secretary that will conduct daily briefings with the media.   But every reporter is at the White House to ask questions of the President.    That is when the real news happens.

 © 2008, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Congratulations, Mr. President

Congratulations, Mr. President

The swearing-in of the President of the United States occurs upon the commencement of a new term of a President of the United States. The United States Constitution mandates that the President make the following oath or affirmation before he or she can "enter on the Execution" of the office of the presidency:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The newly elected or re-elected President traditionally adds "so help me God" to the constitutionally mandated statement.

We will witness the miracle of American Democracy, as another smooth transition of power will take place on Tuesday January 20th in Washington.   President Barack Obama, the duly elected President of the United States will be sworn in as the Commander in Chief by the Chief Justice Roberts.   The United States of American stands alone in its democratic and bloodless transitions of power, which have occurred many times since April 30, 1789.    On that day, the first president, George Washington was sworn in as President.

As Americans we will put aside our differences of opinion and unite as fellow Americans in support of the 44th President of the United States.   President Obama has many challenges that he will face.    Our prayers are will him.

© 2008, Four Corners Media, Jasper Welch,  

Monday, January 12, 2009

Obma & the Scripted Media

Obama and the Scripted Media:


From the media blog on National Review On-Line:

'[We] Don't Even Bother Raising Our Hands Any More...'  [Guy Benson, January 12th post

As I watched President Bush's final tango with reporters this morning, I was reminded of how Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin described President-elect Obama's press conferences thus far:

"As ferociously as we march like villagers with torches against Blagojevich [Governor of Illinois, under Federal indictment], we have been, in the true spirit of the Bizarro universe, the polar opposite with the president-elect. Deferential, eager to please, prepared to keep a careful distance.            The Obama news conferences tell that story, making one yearn for the return of the always-irritating Sam Donaldson to awaken the slumbering press to the notion that decorum isn't all it's cracked up to be. The press corps, most of us, don't even bother raising our hands any more to ask questions because Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who've been advised they will be called upon that day."   Carol Marin, Sun Times

How long will the Obama-friendly press corps, no matter how "deferential" and "eager to please," tolerate such tight management?    (Asked by Guy Benson on his NRO blog)

This is a good question?    As I listened to the final Bush press conference on Sirius XM radio (Bloomberg channel 129 on XM), it was clear that the sitting President Bush was calling on members of the “unfriendly to Bush press corps” as they raised their hands.   And the questions pushed the soon to be former president to ‘admit mistakes’ and ‘apologize to the American people’.     Used to the unfriendly press, the Republican president fired away at his media critics in his usual folksy matter.   However, on some issues, such as the gravity of the Office of the President and keeping the American homeland safe, President Bush didn’t mince words in the face of his media critics.  

So how will the White House press corps treat President Obama next week, when it is his turn to deal with the 4th estate?     Who will be first to ask questions, along the lines of the types of questions that President Bush faced in his last press conference?     At some point, the Obama friendly press will have to choose: Should we continued the well scripted public relations campaign for Team Obama, or should we actually exercise our obligation to report the news as independent members of the press?

How the Legacy media answers this question will determine their long-term credibility as the 4th estate in American politics and reporting.

© 2009, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media,  


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pay to Play Politics: The Gov Richardson Un-Appointment

Pay to Play Politics: The Gov Richardson Un-Appointment

On Wednesday December 3, 2008 President Elect Barack Obama announced the appointment of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as the next Secretary of Commerce.   “As Governor of New Mexico, Bill showed how government can act as a partner to support our businesses, helping create 80,000 new jobs. And under his leadership, New Mexico saw the lowest unemployment rate in decades.” Barack Obama, Chicago, Illinois.    Other press coverage, spun up by the Legacy Media and the Obama transition machine waxed eloquently about Governor Richardson’s qualifications and political career.    So what really happened in New Mexico during six (6) years of one party rule (Democrat) with Governor Richardson at the helm?

            In an exchange of e-mail with Representative Tom Taylor, R-Farmington, who serves as the Minority Leader of the New Mexico House of Representatives, sheds a different light on the results of Governor Richardson’s term in New Mexico.  “They (the Legacy media) didn’t mention in the article that all those wonderful things he did for us (in New Mexico) can’t be afforded.  We have increased (by) 4770 permanent (state of NM) employees or (an increase of) 24% over the last 6 years.   This is going to be interesting (as to whether we can afford this large increase in NM government employees going forward).”  Representative Tom Taylor, R-Farmington, 12.3.08

            Fast-forward one month later to January 5, 2009, and the surprise announcement that Governor Richardson is withdrawing his name from consideration as the next US Department of Commerce Secretary.    What happened in the course of one month?     Or better yet, what has been happening in New Mexico at the Governor’s office over the last 6 years, in particular over the last Presidential election cycle?    Political sources in New Mexico have long held that the Governor was engaged in “pay to play” politics, a term that has received much more use during the on-going Governor Blagojevich corruption scandal unfolding in Illinois.   This light of national press attention on Illinois is proving to be uncomfortable for the Governor of New Mexico.    At issue with Bill Richardson, D-New Mexico, is campaign contributions to Richardson by CDR Financial and state of NM government “sole source/no bid” contracts with CDR Financial, how they were linked and what was expected as a result of the political money flow (from CDR to Richardson).  Since word of a US grand jury investigation leaked out in mid December, the Governor who is usually media savvy, hasn’t been talking.  This silence was broken on Monday, January 5th during a 7-minute press conference in Santa Fe, NM.  The embattled Governor expressed disappointment in having to step aside, but also steadfastly refused to answer questions related to the CDR investigation. 

Behind the scenes, NM legislators and political operatives in New Mexico are scrambling to prepare for a rough 2009 legislative session, made more challenging with a lame duck Governor now unable to exit to Washington DC during a New Mexico budget crisis.  In the meantime, Lt Governor Diane Denish is engaged in a Governor transition process, predicated on the Guv being appointed as the new Secretary of Commerce (done in early December 2008, but undone in early January 2009).   Time will tell whether this “Denish transition team” effort is premature, but it appears to be on hold as a result of Governor Richardson withdrawing his name from consideration.  Stay tuned, as New Mexico politics at the Roundhouse have been turned upside down prior to an expected 10% shortfall in state revenues for FY 2009/2010.  As a result of the Governor unexpectedly staying in New Mexico, a tough NM legislative session on FY 2009/10 budget issues becomes even more unpredictable.

© 2008, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media,