Veep Veep

The conventional wisdom that there's a predictable political divide between the two dailies – Trib = Republican, Times = Democrat – isn't always borne out by the 08afiiv155412db398h

evidence. But you had to be struck by the placement of stories today about the visit to Tampa of Vice President Cheney, in town to buck up Republican congressional candidate Gus Bilirakis. The Trib: 1-A. The Times: 3-B. Front-page-worthy for one, not even worthy of making the front of the City and State section for the other.

The ledes reflected the difference in attitude: the Trib’s Carlos Moncada begins with the breathless “The second most powerful man in the country came to town Friday…” while the Times’ Robin Stein leads with Cheney’s remarks linking U.S. support for Israel with (surprise) “the global war on terror.” Both stories gave something approaching equal time to Bilirakis’ Democratic opponent Phyllis Busansky, though there was one head-scratching transition in the Trib. Following a rundown of all the ways Cheney is trying to make the Florida vote into a vote on U.S. foreign policy, the story shifts into a discussion of whether Busansky and the Democrats can “nationalize” the race. Wait a minute: it’s Busansky who’s going to nationalize it? When we just finished reading the same-old, same-old rhetoric from Cheney about weak-kneed terrorist-sympathizing Democrats?

Maybe Bilirakis has a local name-recognition advantage, as the story suggests (using ubiquitous pundit Darryl Paulson as backup), but that’s not why the Republicans brought in the Veep.

— David Warner

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