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Actually, Kendrick, err, Congressman Meek, you did not "win" the debate

By on June 23, 2010

First and foremost, let me get me this off my chest: During a debate, Kendrick Meek should not be addresses as “Kendrick” as Jeff Greene did over and over again yesterday.  And Congressman Meek should definitely not be addressed as “Kendrick” with the kind of contempt Jeff Greene did not even attempt to contain.  As Republican consultant Rick Wilson tweeted yesterday: “Wow…the unspoken word in Greene’s statement was ‘boy’ ”

Now that that is addressed, let’s deal with Kendrick, err, Congressman Meek’s boast that he “won” yesterday’s debate.  The last thing Meek did yesterday was “win.”  I can make the argument that Meek lost just having to debate Greene, that’s how shaky his once sure-fire lock on the Democratic nomination has become.  But as one reader points out, Meek’s campaign took some poetic license when it claimed victory just minutes after the end of yesterday’s debate.

I was reading through this press release and realized it was cherry pickin’ at its finest.

The South Florida Sentinel quotes from Anthony Man’s are taken completely out of context. The “dramatic” moment is explained much better in his actual story, lengthier and more substantive in nature. Man does not say Kendrick Meek won the debate. In fact, he specifically avoids doing so by noting that Meek’s people declared themselves winners. Instead, he offers a fairly balanced review of the debate itself.

The snippets taken from David Catanese’s piece in Politico are also cherry-picked. Catanese’s piece was less detailed than Man’s, yet it, too, was a balanced review of the morning’s debate. Catanese moderated one of the Halter-Lincoln primary debates last month in Arkansas and is a pretty solid writer and commentator. He, too, did not declare Kendrick Meek the winner of this debate. On the contrary, he writes:

“While Meek attempted to portray Greene as an untrustworthy Johnny-come-lately to Democratic politics, Greene kept Meek on the defensive for much of the debate and avoided any significant gaffes.”

Here’s what Joy-Ann Reid of the Reid Report actually wrote with respect to the debate’s winner:

“It’s tough to call a winner on this one. Both men gave as good as they got, Meek landed the point that he is the only one of his four opponents who “has never run as a Republican,” and Greene  helped him out by using more than a few GOP talking points, on immigration (“with all of our technology, how could 11 to 15 million illegal immigrants get into our country?”), and on the economy, where he denied that the stimulus — the centerpiece of the Obama launch — is working. Those things he may live to regret, as he courts Democratic voters.

Because it came so close to the end, and because it so threw Greene off his game, Meek’s mom defense probably gave him the edge in the debate, or at least a stronger close. And he put Greene on the defensive over his Democratic bona fides to the point where Greene felt he had to play the “I’m from Massachusetts and grew up with Bobby Kennedy” card. But Greene came across as knowledgeable for a political neophyte, and dogged in pursuit of his talking points.

Similarly, Adam Smith’s (and Beth Reinhard’s) actual analysis of the debate differs from the snippet the Meek press release includes about the back and forth over each candidate’s carbon footprint. Smith and Reinhard write:

“For a real estate mogul who has never served in public office going up against a seasoned politician, Greene held his own. Both had awkward moments; both scored with one-liners.”

The press release also cites Andrew Abramson, a writer for the Palm Beach Post (and West Palm Beat). The quote from the press release:

“If you don’t know much about Jeff Greene, you’re not alone.”

I tried to look this quote up on Google and didn’t find an article link. What I did find was Mr. Abramson’s Twitter page, which includes this live-tweet:

If you don’t know much about Jeff Greene, you’re not alone.

Here’s his site http://bit.ly/9ozBcj We’re about to learn more #flsen #pbdb8

This is an absolutely egregious misappropriation of a reporter’s tweet by the Meek communications office. They just cut the last part of his tweet off! Mr. Abramson, along with the other writers at the Palm Beach Post, was merely informing his Twitter followers about Jeff Greene’s candidacy. He was getting them up to speed in case they hadn’t been following the primary contest previously. It’s pretty clear that Abramson’s Tweet was not an indication that he thought Jeff Greene lost the debate and Kendrick Meek was the victor.

Abramson did contribute to a Michael Bender piece in the Palm Beach Post. That piece, like the others, was a balanced review of the debate. Bender does not declare a winner or loser in the debate.

This tactic was repeated with respect to the Beth Reinhard quote. It is actually a live Tweet from the debate. Her article with Adam Smith, as I discussed earlier, did not declare a winner. Again, this was a Tweet taken out of context; Reinhard tweeted about one exchange within the debate.

The News Service of Florida article also does not declare a winner of the debate.

The remaining quotes were taken from blogs and do not warrant further inquiry. It’s pretty clear here that Kendrick Meek’s staffers declared victory based on quotes taken out of context. This is a fairly ridiculous attempt to spin the results of the debate.  The credible political writers in this state all wrote of a contentious, nasty, yet engaging contest between two candidates. They carefully documented the blows Greene and Meek delivered to one another. Not one of them declared Meek the winner. That much is clear.

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