Politics reporters face a minefield in 2022, but would a third party make life easier? Letter from the Editor – cleveland.com

Politics reporters face a minefield in 2022, but would a third party make life easier? Letter from the Editor – cleveland.com

Politics reporters face a minefield in 2022, but would a third party make life easier? Letter from the Editor – cleveland.com

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, pictured here at a holiday parade with his wife, Marcia, and daughter, Elizabeth, will start representing Lorain County in Congress next year. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta)
When Ohio adopted new Congressional maps last year, our Washington correspondent Sabrina Eaton took note that residents of Lorain County could soon be represented in Congress by a longtime Congressman they likely knew nothing about, Republican Bob Latta.
In the maps, which remain under challenge before the Ohio Supreme Court, Lorain County would go from being carved into three districts – represented by Democrat Marcy Kaptur and Republicans Jim Jordan and Bob Gibbs — to one, becoming part of the district represented held by Latta.
Sabrina thought Lorain County residents might want to get to know Latta a bit and wrote a short profile last month. The piece covered the bases about his politics, his family background and how he was already working to understand the county he likely would soon represent. You can read it at tinyurl.com/MeetBobLatta
Soon after we published it, we received a few notes from readers who considered the story what one called a “puff piece.”
“The constituents don’t know who he is,” said one, “so they should be informed that he is a typical, hypocritical Republican (he wants infrastructure and will take credit for the money poured into Lorain County, even though he voted against the infrastructure bill- Lorain County deserves to know that). That leads to my second point – he is a typical Republican, but the article made him sound more moderate and did not mention his typical right-wing positions (like voting against the 1/6 Commission and not voting to charge Bannon with Contempt of Congress).
Another note, calling the profile “gushing,” said, “The bottom line is whether or not politicians believe the Presidential election was stolen or not. This sadly seems to be at the core of a politician’s integrity. I looked carefully for this in the article but couldn’t find it.”
One sent Sabrina a link to a site that rates members of Congress on how they stand regarding the attempt by former President Donald Trump to overturn the election with false claims it was stolen.
Sabrina responded to those who wrote, pointing out where in the story she had detailed Latta’s politics. She said her piece was a quick primer, but with Latta’s district moving into Northeast Ohio, much more coverage would follow.
I bring this up as an example of the minefield that awaits our reporters covering politics in 2022. Sabrina had a simple goal– to introduce Lorain County residents to someone who likely will represent them. But some readers immediately pounced, demanding that she include a litmus test involving Trump.
I’m grateful that they took the time to write, and I appreciate that their notes were professional and courteous. And, they’re right, of course, about the cowardice of elected officials who stand behind the claim that presidential election was stolen and don’t hold Trump accountable for the attempted overthrow of our democracy. We are at a dangerous moment when smart people knowingly stand behind a fiction rather than do what they know is right, all because they fear the ramifications with some voters.
But do readers really want us to make this year’s elections about Trump? Again? He lost. He’s out of office. The nation has huge problems to solve. Shouldn’t our coverage look forward?
The country is so polarized at the moment that I wonder whether any of this matters. The people who wrote to Sabrina are never going to vote for Latta. They know that. They don’t need any coverage from us to make up their minds.
I received a healthy response to a column I wrote a few weeks ago about how reasonable people on the right and the left could reach agreement on issues when people on the fringes of the right and left are removed from the conversation. A bunch of readers said they believe the time is right for a third party in America, where common sense and courteous debate would prevail.
Few endeavors could be more challenging, I suspect, then launching a third party in America, but what if it is the only way to get past all of this rancor? Culling radical progressives and insurrection-denying conservatives from both parties and merging what remains might elevate the kind of reasonable politicians who once represented this state, people like John Glenn and George Voinovich.
Who’s game?
For now, the challenge is on the politics reporters, like Sabrina. They’re the ones who will navigate the rancor in 2022.
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