Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Governor Patrick opens up to “fair questions”

By Shane Cronin

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Recently Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick agreed to interview on the talk radio circuit. For those of you unfamiliar with the Amplitude Modulation genre, I implore you to adjust your dials. On April 1 – April Fool’s Day to boot – the embattled Democrat, facing re-election this year, sat down for a chat with WRKO host Howie Carr.

A long running joke on the show revolves around Patrick’s unwillingness to talk with Carr. “When the phone doesn’t ring, [I’ll] know it’s you, Deval,” said Carr. The radio host, columnist, and author often quips about the Bay State’s Governor. After last week, however, the Governor forced Carr to eat his words. Patrick made his first appearance at the studio.

The overall tone of the exchange was jovial, yet Carr managed to ask all the tough questions.

“The first thing I want to know, where’s my property tax cut?” Carr asked the Governor. For those of you with short or selective memories, Gov. Patrick campaigned on lowering property taxes for all homeowners of the Commonwealth. “It’s comin’” Patrick answered. Carr incredulously retorted, “I’m writin’ this down for my column,” which ran in Friday’s Boston Herald.

Carr covered every base from the notorious Cadillac scandal, which plagued the Governor’s early days in office, to pension reform, bringing casinos to Mass., the state sales tax increase last year and more. And all of this happened in 15 minutes – 15 minutes, which I dare say most of the votes Patrick can count on in November didn’t catch. In the next six months of campaigning Deval Patrick won’t sit for a tougher interview. Mark my words.

I lost a lot of faith in the Governor over the past year, but this 15 minute segment blunted the downward trend for me. Let me tell you why. Barack Obama, while peddling healthcare reform over the last 12 months, didn’t answer a single tough question about it. He interviewed with CBS, NBC, ABC and MSNBC. He wrote opinion pieces for the New York Times. These media outlets are all friends of his administration and heavily supported Obamacare.

The question you should ask yourselves is why didn’t Obama sit down with Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly if he was so confident about his healthcare reform bill? They have much larger audiences than any left leaning news organization he frequents. Wouldn’t the President have been able to reach a larger percentage of Americans by speaking with one of them? Yes, Obama interviewed with Fox News personality Bret Baier, but it was hardly a test of the President’s mettle.

Deval Patrick realized he needs the right leaning Howie Carr show. Instead of hurling accusations at conservative hosts like the Obama camp does, Patrick bit the bullet. And guess what? He lives to tell the tale! And he’s a stronger candidate for it. I commend the Governor for … expanding his horizons, for lack of a better expression. I stop short of applauding him, however. All media outlets should be as skeptical of politicians as Carr. Politicians shouldn’t have friends in the press. The role of journalists is to question government, not sing its praises. And under no circumstances should a media outlet favor one party over another.

The talk radio medium engenders the intended role of the press best of all its counterparts. I don’t always agree with what my favorite hosts say, however, I appreciate well formulated, independent opinions. And the beauty of America is I can take an opinion or leave it.

Aside from all that, the Deval Patrick interview wasn’t about opinions. It was about the Governor of Massachusetts answering fair questions about his campaign promises and executive actions that affect every resident of this state. Howie Carr didn’t castigate Patrick. He simply wanted to know when the tolls will be removed from the MassPike, and why State Senator Marion Walsh, a friend of the governor’s, was appointed to a 12 year vacant position paying $175,000 annually. No comment from the Gov. on the latter.

What are politicians so afraid of? Is it reaching out to a different audience? Or is it being held accountable to their records? Scott Brown won in Massachusetts due, in part, to the listeners of the Howie Carr show. Martha Coakley declined her WRKO invitation. We all know what happened to her.

At the end of the day the tough questions are coming from the Laura Ingrahams and the Michael Savages in the media not the Rachel Maddows and the Matt Lauers. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, you can’t deny that. If you’re voting in the Massachusetts gubernatorial election later this year download the April first Howie Carr/Deval Patrick podcast. It is available free on iTunes. And if you are planning on casting a ballot for the incumbent, it will be, perhaps, the most important 15 minutes you’ll hear now until Election Day this November.

Shane Cronin is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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