Empire editorial: A parakeet for the governor

Posted: Sunday, December 19, 2004

Gov. Frank Murkowski said in a news release Friday that he may get a pet bird so that he can find some use for the state's largest newspaper.

Murkowski was making a comment about the Anchorage paper's news judgment after it ran a story about the proposed natural gas line in its Money section rather than on the front page. He said he considered Thursday's development - a proposal by oil producers to build the line - "the most significant news development in the gas pipeline story to come along in decades."

It may well be a huge development if there's follow-through, and the governor would be in position to know. But it's curious that he would issue a news release just to say he's not getting along with the media. Those sorts of barbs usually come as asides during news conferences or interviews, and are part of the communications landscape. To actually spin them as the news is a mite defensive.

"I'm thinking about buying a parakeet so that the Anchorage Daily News can finally have some relevance in my life," the governor said in the release - the traditional method of suggesting that newspapers write a story.

That's funny. And it's further evidence that a governor riled by reporters and editors will go to unusual lengths, whether by state-sponsored television programs or paid newspaper inserts or angry news releases, to tell his own story.

More power to him. But if a newspaper has no relevance to the governor, why the fuss?

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