December 29th, 2005
Why does Tim Eyman keep getting special attention from the media?
This organization – the membership and leadership of Permanent Defense – is getting pretty tired of the special treatment that Tim Eyman keeps getting from Washington State media outlets. Today, Tim has a column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, entitled “2006 initiative: Save our $30 tabs.” Just yesterday, the Everett Herald ran the very same column for Tim, entitled: “Politicians should be held to their word on $30 tabs”. Why are media outlets going out of their way to give Eyman special treatment?
The staff of this organization would like to know why.
It’s been said that the media is not very good at telling people what to think, but is good at telling people what to think about. The power to set the agenda. To decide what is “buzz” and what is not. We are fairly confident that the media understands who Tim Eyman is and what he wants.
His goal is to destroy government. And his philosophy (if you can call it that) is well summarized in this quote from national right wing activist Grover Norquist, who famously stated: “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years – to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
Eyman’s initiatives are all attempts to reduce the size and scope of government in some way. Not just state government, but local government, too. Most of his initiatives have been proposals to drastically cut back taxes, which has an immediate and significant effect on the ability of government to deliver quality public services to its citizens.
Year after year, editorial boards and commentators across Washington have opined against nearly every one of these initiatives, concluding that they will not lead to a healthier Evergreen State.
Despite this, Eyman keeps getting the attention he wants and needs to remain influential. In fact, Tim has probably received more media exposure than any other politician in the state, save for the Governor.
Whenever Eyman wants to “announce” a new initiative effort, the Associated Press usually has an article about it. Whenever Eyman calls a press conference in Olympia, the major TV stations (KOMO, KING, KIRO, KCPQ) usually send their cameras over to the Capitol campus to cover it, and then those stations run the clips during their five o’clock broadcasts. When Eyman submits columns to newspapers, they usually get printed. We know because we keep seeing them.
Last May, our Chair wrote a post for the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate (the blog of Permanent Defense’s parent organization) taking to the traditional media to task for fawning over Eyman. This post still rings true today.
It is time that regional media outlets stopped giving Tim Eyman so much special attention. There is no good reason why he should be awarded with column after column after column. There is no good reason why the press needs to feel obligated to cover him every single time he wants to announce a new initiative effort.
Why not instead put a greater emphasis on giving more people, especially those active within their neighborhood communities, a chance to express their views? The Evergreen State is home to about six million people.
There are surely many Washingtonians (and many issues) that are far more worthy of the attention than Tim Eyman. The media should be diversifying its political coverage instead of catering to him.