Electoral politics is frequently more a contest of biographies than it is of the issues, particularly if there is no incumbent involved. Of course, having an inspiring biography is only worth as much as the media allow it to be.
Not only is Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan at a disadvantage in this regard—the press very rarely tells of his inspiring story of overcoming blindness and a modest economic background—he is also harmed by the fact that the Democrat he is running against in the special election that’s being held today, Cory Booker, has a long record of fabricating his own biographical details.
The Lonegan story is truly an inspiring one. Instead of consigning himself to a life spent dependent on the state and ruing his disability, he decided to make something of himself and became a successful businessman and political activist.
Unfortunately for him, however, the word has not gotten out. According to the Nexis news database, in the four and a half months that Lonegan has been running for Senate, newspapers covering the race have mentioned his disability just 59 times in the more than 1,000 articles they’ve written about the special election. According to Nexis, the New York Times has mentioned Lonegan’s blindness once.
In contrast, the media’s treatment of Lonegan’s opponent, Democrat Cory Booker, has until recently, been nearly orgasmic. Since June of this year, the local newspapers have used the term “rock star” to describe Booker 42 times.
While the local media were busy singing Booker’s praises, the non-liberal media have been having a field day talking about his serial lying. In August, National Review reported that the Newark mayor had completely fabricated a man named “T-Bone,” who had supposedly shared a number of emotionally gripping experiences with Booker.
The conservative website was not the first to report the story. The Star-Ledger, the biggest newspaper in New Jersey, reported on it in 2007. Incredibly, however, until the NR recap of the fabrication was printed, the paper had never even bothered to tell its readers about the T-Bone lies as he was running to represent the state in the U.S. Senate. You can bet that if Lonegan or any other Republican been caught completely fabricating events and people, the voters would never have heard the end of it. Instead of acknowledging its failure to inform the public, the Star-Ledger derided the National Review report as a “rehash.”
But suppressing the truth about T-Bone isn’t the only negative information about Booker that the New Jersey and New York press has downplayed. They’ve also neglected to cover beyond a couple of days the fact that one of the properties he owns in the city of Newark was vacant and eventually burned down—all in spite of laws that Booker himself had pushed for to tear down and condemn unoccupied buildings. The local press has also completely ignored accounts from eyewittnesses who say that he falsely claimed that a murdered Newark resident died in his arms. Not one publication aside from the New York Post has talked to two men who claim to have seen the shooting of Wazn Miller. One of them, Gilez Smith, told the paper he thought Booker’s actions were simply “a big act.” There also has not been any released reporting on claims that Booker does not actually live in the city he purports to lead.
All the polls that have come out about the election indicate that Cory Booker looks likely to defeat Lonegan. Certainly the much-larger number of Democrats in the state will have played a role if that proves to be true. But there’s no doubt that the biased coverage from the New Jersey, New York, and Philly media have significantly boosted Booker in this race and throughout his career.
Update 22:49 ET. As expected, Booker won the race. Lonegan has conceded defeat and Booker has claimed the victory. The headline of this piece has been updated to reflect events.