If the president of the United States gives an exclusive interview to a Philadelphia radio personality from the White House and talks about issues important to the economic security of Pennsylvania, should local news sources discuss it? Absolutely.
Seven years ago, Michael Smerconish interviewed President Barack Obama face-to-face from the Oval Office and the local news media promoted it lavishly. Television news carried the story, news websites reprinted the transcript, and Philadelphia Magazine said the radio host “scores.”
All of this attention was well deserved. After all, we live in a huge country and the president granting an exclusive interview to a local Philly media personality merits excitement. Too bad it has not happened again. Or has it?
Just a week before Thanksgiving, morning drive personality Rich Zeoli of 1210 WPHT sat down with President Trump for a live interview from the Oval Office to discuss issues important to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It was part of a series of talks with administration officials that is available here and is well worth a listen.
During the interview, Trump discussed his frustration with House Democrats for delaying a vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This trade deal targets, among other things, dairy, egg and poultry markets, as well as steel and aluminum tariffs and auto exports.
Whether you look forward to four more years of this administration or are counting down the days to Trump’s replacement, keeping abreast of what he is saying and doing about your home state should interest you.
Pennsylvania is a top producer of dairy, eggs and poultry and a leader in manufacturing — which uses steel and aluminum. The Pennsylvania economy could benefit enormously from the jobs, business opportunities and tax revenue USMCA would bring.
But if you wanted to hear Zeoli’s interview with Trump on these issues, you had to listen to his radio show because local media gave it the cold shoulder.
Why was virtually the same story covered so differently when it involved different presidents?
At the time of the Smerconish interview, Obama’s approval rating was about 50 percent. Trump is currently lower. Does that justify ignoring the president discussing issues important to Philadelphians?
Zeoli does not hide his admiration for Trump — but Smerconish was an unabashed Obama fan. In fact, he endorsed him in his newspaper column in 2008.
Obama expressed frustration with House Republicans when he spoke to Smerconish, and Trump makes no secret of his disdain for House Democrats while talking to Zeoli.
So many similarities — except the local coverage.
Ignoring the president serves no purpose except to reinforce his constant accusations about fake news and biased media coverage. Philadelphia deserves better.
Whether you look forward to four more years of this administration or are counting down the days to Trump’s replacement, keeping abreast of what he is saying and doing about your home state should interest you. Too bad you can’t rely on local news media to report it.
Linda A. Kerns is an attorney and one of the co-founders of Broad + Liberty.