Silent Treatment

One from the Editorial MemoryRecall (EMR)files…

Based on media coverage in New Jersey and across the country,you’d have to be deaf not to hear thepolitical noise surroundingreauthorization of SCHIP, the government financed children’s health insurance program.

Unless of course, you live in the Republican pockets of this state. Take Burlington County for instance.

Everywhere else the battle was fierce – labor and advocacy groups reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince 15 key Republicans to override the President’s veto of the bill. The select groupincludes three NJ congressmen,among them Jim Saxtonof Burlington.

Numerous statewide editorials added their voice to the cause except perhaps, where it counted the most. Leading up to the override vote, the Burlington County Times news and editorial pages were virtually silenton the matter.

Since Sunday, only one front page storyappeared in the BCT, even after a candlelight vigil was staged in front of Saxton’s office. Wire coverage on the major policy debate in the BCT failed to even mentionSaxton was pivotal tothefate of theprogram. It wasn’t until the Governor went on the attack andfingered the three congressmen that Saxton’s name appeared in an AP story on the day of theoverride vote.

The BCT had a ready-made "local angle"to a major national issue delivered to their doorstep.

So why did the BCT fail to give this story the same prominence as other newspapers in the state? Did the editors not find the issue of much salience,or was it politically expedient to look the other way when one of its “favorite sons”ended up on the wrong side of public opinion.

I checked.

Apparently the issue grabbed their attention earlier this year when the BCT opined that “one item does demand our attention: the possibility that 30,000 of New Jersey's children stand to lose out on a health-insurance program covering lower-income families” (2/16/07). The editorial continued: “Already struggling with budget woes of its own, New Jersey would be particularly hard hit if that (reauthorization) didn't happen. Corzine is right to do everything he can to protect his state's littlest and most vulnerable citizens.”

You could hear a pin drop.

Silent Treatment