Discover more from Red Meat For Mushy Moderates
DeSantis Gets In, Chartock Gets Out
Red Meat For Mushy Moderates
It looks like the race to unseat President Joe Biden has finally begun in earnest. The entry of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signals that former President Donald Trump will face more than token opposition in his quest to once again be the Republican presidential nominee. This is a positive development. As problematic as DeSantis is, another four years of Trump would be far worse.
No one else in the field stands a realistic chance against Trump, who at this point leads DeSantis by more than 25 points in recent polling. According to a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this week, Trump is polling at 56% to DeSantis’ 25. Trump has actually gained 9 points on DeSantis since the last Q poll in March.
DeSantis made a curious choice in using Twitter to announce his candidacy. To borrow a phrase from my former students, it just seemed “cheesed-out.” For one thing, the event was plagued with technical difficulties that made it difficult to hear what was going on. And since it was an audio-only event, it lacked the visuals traditionally associated with the announcements of presidential candidacies.
Who could forget Barack Obama announcing his campaign in front of the state capitol in Springfield, Illinois, or Ronald Reagan beginning the fall general election campaign against Jimmy Carter with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop. Even Donald Trump’s 2015 announcement after stepping off the escalator amid the glitter and gold of Trump Tower stands as an iconic moment.
But a screen with audio-only of a conversation with an erratic South African-Canadian billionaire? Really? It seemed like an amateurish attempt to appear hip to technology but avoid having to interact with real people, which is certainly not DeSantis’ strong suit. Distant and reticent, the optics surrounding the Twitter event played right into his public awkwardness; there was no interaction with people other than Musk, who is just as ungainly as DeSantis, and entrepreneur David Sacks, a Twitter troll and DeSantis admirer.
Those who are old enough will remember Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential announcement in the Senate Conference Room, where he took questions from the press for nearly an hour. For all his other weaknesses as a candidate, DeSantis is great at chewing out reporters at new press conferences. Maybe he should have channeled RFK and Reagan by holding a presser in Orlando with Disney World as a backdrop. That would really scratch the itch of activist Republican primary voters.
Subscribers to this newsletter who live in Connecticut, Upstate New York or the Berkshires might have heard this morning that Alan Chartock, the CEO of Northeast Public Radio and NPR affiliate WAMC, has “retired” suddenly after leading the organization for some 40 years.
The press release pushed out by WAMC management this morning gave no reason why Chartock, 81, was leaving. But he’s been absent all this week and only a few months ago had negotiated a new contract with his board of directors that would have increased his annual salary by more than $100,000 per year.
Obviously, something rather dramatic happened. It’s fair to say that more honesty is called for here. If Chartock left for health or personal reasons, then tell us. Otherwise this announcement will give rise to all manner of conjecture.
My respect for the man is limited to one thing:
As I wrote nine years ago, what Chartock did with tiny WAMC when he took it over in 1981 is nothing short of spectacular. He grew a station that was $125,000 in debt into a regional powerhouse. No one can take that achievement away from him.
But what continues to amaze me is that his admirers still look to him as a source of wisdom on public policy - or on life in general. His columns for the Berkshire Eagle and later, The Berkshire Edge, were thin, lazy and often incoherent.
I will not miss his radio presence either. Despite having nothing meaningful to say, Chartock insisted on appearing on every edition of the Roundtable panel and the Media Project. His on-air treatment of women was, shall we say, less than stellar. Ask Rosemary Armao. And his man crush on Congressman Richard Neal, D-Springfield, was embarrassing. I have never given money to the station, but now I could donate to the next fund drive with a clear conscience.
Meanwhile, a new era begins at WAMC. The choice of a permanent replacement for Chartock will be the most import decision made by the station’s board of directors in decades. Onward …
My latest for CTNewsJunkie just went up this morning: