Covering New Mexico’s Second ‘Scathing’ Report of the Month

April 17th, 2014 · 1 Comment · state government

By Denise Tessier

By now, most know that the U.S. Department of Justice wasn’t the only group issuing a scathing report related to New Mexico this month. Mother Jones’ article about Gov. Susana Martinez  was a hot story on national media sites Wednesday and made same-day news on all the local television stations (although KRQE held off on the story until 10).

The Albuquerque Journal could not avoid running something on this political fireball this morning, and it did run a story, placing “Mother Jones takes on Martinez” at the bottom of the front page.

But it’s interesting that the emergence of Mother Jones’ highly critical and politically explosive article, coupled with the Martinez camp’s lightning swift reaction, did not merit any mention Wednesday via the Journal’s electronic news alerts – even though local TV stations KOB and KOAT already had stories up on their web sites during the day.

This omission indicates the paper’s editors were hesitant, even reluctant to promote it, despite its real importance and the traffic it would have driven to the Journal’s web site.

(This is not to say the Journal should release stories just to beat the competition – although in reality the Journal has not made an effort to “scoop” much of any of its reporting, even when a story is written and waiting, a malaise that dates to the waning circulation days of its historical rival, the Albuquerque Tribune.)

But it easily could have issued an alert that could have led to a few short lines about the Mother Jones story and Martinez camp reaction, as the Journal has done in the past and with stories of far less importance.

This omission has led to complaints that the Journal continues to promote/protect Martinez.

It would likely be more accurate, however, to speculate that the omission reflects more on the Journal protecting itself, loathe to trumpet that national media was able to get more on Martinez – the damning audio tapes, her appointment schedules – than local media had.

This morning’s Journal web site did prominently feature the Martinez story by placing it at top on the home page with her picture. Note that the first words of the “teaser” paragraph for this story are “Left-leaning”:

Left-leaning magazine Mother Jones published a scathing profile of Gov. Susana Martinez that featured recordings of Martinez and her campaign staff cursing about her 2010 election opponent and criticizing public school teachers.

Other media outlets have attached “liberal” or “left-leaning” to the Martinez story as if it is part of Mother Jones’ name, but in doing so are following the language cast by Martinez’s campaign staff, who characterized the story in Wednesday’s reaction/facebook post as a “desperate” liberal media assault on a GOP candidate, rather than investigative journalism of a state governor with national political aspirations.

By 8 p.m. Wednesday evening, Martinez had posted:

We have raised nearly $15,000 in past few hours! Help me combat these desperate attacks from DC Liberal Media.

While “leaning” left would arguably be accurate, Mother Jones has been noted for its investigative journalism since Mark Dowie’s award-winning 1977 exposé on exploding Ford Pinto cars.

To its web editors’ credit, the Journal’s online story provided clear access to the damning audio clips.

From them, New Mexicans get some insight into why she eliminated the budget for the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women (she knew nothing of its history or importance and was surprised it even existed).

James Monteleone’s Journal story also summarizes most of the other damning revelations of the Mother Jones story, including her ignorance of potash, long a source of state jobs and income in the southern part of the state (where she used to live) and of WIPP, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It also revealed her belief that teachers earn too much because, she said, they don’t work in the summer.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • David Chester

    Not only has the Journal (as well as other local newspapers in NM) promoted Martinez shamelessly; they also continue to heap blame on Bill Richardson to this day. Martinez claims credit for many things she didn’t do, such as balancing the budget after Richardson “spent all the money”. She is guilty of many of the same transgressions, contracts to friends, politically motivated appointments, etc. I think that little B—- was Right to call her a liar.

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