Saturday, March 3, 2007

‘Madame Hunter' takes hit from Ohio

Being the publisher's wife at the Sun-Times means you can leapfrog most of the staff into a coveted role as Barack Obama sycophant/political columnist/keen observer of life.

This provides reporters and editors in Chicago a nice topic to snicker about when they chatter among themselves.

Jennifer Hunter made a recent trip to Ohio to cover Obama and in her column the other day, she channeled Maureen Dowd in a sneering, dismissive analysis of life in Cleveland and the political landscape across the state.

This is one sad city, as dingy as the gray lake it sits beside, Lake Erie. Cleveland makes Chicago, with its Magnificent Mile and vibrant night life, look like Paris.

The downtown streets are soulless: There are few pedestrians on this Wednesday afternoon as I walk back to my hotel from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Store after store is shuttered. There are no upscale hotels, few restaurants, no chain stores, and the theater district around Euclid Avenue looks as if it was interrupted in the middle of Act 2: The props remain but the lights are out and the actors have exited stage left.

An Ohio political blogger wasn't amused.
Her point? Apparently Ohio is a slum that needs Barack Obama and the Democrats.

But, here's my problem. Hunter was walking from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to her hotel. Not walking the Mahoning Valley. Not downtown in Marietta, Ohio. Not outside a steel plant in Piketon, Ohio. Not even in the Toledo ‘burbs. She was at the… ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME. That's something isn't it? And, Madame Hunter, that big round thing right there… that's a FOOTBALL stadium. That's something isn't it?

I understand that Cleveland and the rest of Ohio want to see more jobs, stores, and economic development, but to make such stereotypical observations based on a walk in an area that is about as far from Appalachian and broken-down-rust-belt Ohio as you can get is a bit much.
And there's more…
Madame Hunter couldn't even get the statewide political picture right, talking to a consultant whose claim to fame was working on Jesse Jackson's 1984 Presidential run for the demographics. the guy says Cleveland is "D," but Dayton, Toledo, Cincy and Columbus all vote Republican. Ugh. Madame Hunter would have served herself well to visit out Secretary of State's website instead of taking 20 year old information from a candidate that didn't even fair well then. The ultimate irony, of course, is that it is the actually rural, rust belt Ohio that carried Ohio for President Bush in 2004.
Blogger Matt Dole's conclusion:
We don't need an elitist publisher's wife congratulating herself on being from Chicago through shoddy research and stereotypes with each visit to Ohio.
If she does come back, Matt, make sure the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce gets her a hotel in a better location.

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