Watchdog Blog

Herb Strentz: Trump, Bachmann, and Iowa Political Coverage

Posted at 10:27 pm, April 17th, 2011
Herb Strentz Mug

If you’re a fan of Hans Christian Andersen and his fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, you’ll feel right at home with the Iowa Republican caucuses this time around. It’s all a fairy tale in which the likes of expert bankruptcy tycoon Donald Trump and Rep. Dingaling, aka Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), are viewed as legitimate choices to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.

And, like the gullible court entourage and the parade crowds in the Andersen fable, you don’t find any one in the Iowa news media playing the role of Andersen’s little boy — the kid who observed, “Hey, the king is naked. This is nonsense!”

Instead, most news coverage mimics the lyrics from a Danny Kaye song with regard to the Emperor’s queen. She did not want to be out of step with those praising the non-existent royal garb so she sang:

“These eyes of mine at once determined
The sleeves are velvet, the cape is ermine 

The hose are blue and the doublet is a lovely shade of green. 

Summon the court to convene.”

In similar vein:

The Iowa press does assure us
That Trump’s legit and Michele’s not bogus
That the G-O-P caucus will be a lovely race, all right.
Entries are — what else? — all right!

The way the religious right controls the GOP in Iowa had compelled the little boy in me to declare, “The caucuses are toast!”


Not so fast, said Gil Cranberg, a frequent contributor to this site and former editorial page editor of the Des Moines Register and Tribune. In an email, Gil said, “Caucuses won’t be toast because press loves a horse race and so long as it reports Iowa breathlessly candidates will run in Iowa and press will follow.” I guess caucus coverage is like the rigged roulette wheel that draws gamblers because “It’s the only wheel in town.”

Another friend, taking note of the impact of the political power of the religious right in Iowa, agreed with Gil and noted, “They’ll be reported as evangelist caucuses to an extent but taken seriously and analyzed to death.”

I suppose so. If the press can analyze the Butler-UConn NCAA basketball final as something other than a travesty, the press can treat the Iowa caucuses in the same vein.

In fact, J. Ann Selzer, director of the Iowa Poll, lent the caucuses some credibility in an op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register. She reviewed recent poll findings because “I’m asked can only socially conservative candidates win in Iowa.” Her findings, she said, suggested that not all Iowans are political lunatics.

But the question she asked and answered was the wrong one. It is not whether you have to be to the far, religious right to win in Iowa; it is whether you have to be to the far, religious right to survive in the 2012 GOP caucuses.

And all current indicators are that while the Iowa caucuses may not be toast, moderate Republicans certainly are.

That’s the case, even though:

The Iowa press does assure us
That Trump’s legit and Michele’s not bogus.

One Response to “Trump, Bachmann, and Iowa Political Coverage”

  1. RT says:

    YOU are attempting to trash constitution by talking about an Emperor and a Queen. (An emporer never has a queen!!! – an emperess maybe)

    This country is a republic and YOU are trying to use the press to influence the election?

    Shame on you.

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