By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

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Talking about the debate on Fox 25

I’ll be talking about the presidential debate tonight at 10:30 on Fox 25 News with Maria Stephanos. There may be some Web chatting during the debate as well. If you’d like to join in, I’ll post details here on Twitter.

Talking about Wednesday night’s Senate debate


Right after Wednesday night’s third U.S. Senate debate between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, UMass Boston political-science professor Maurice Cunningham and I kicked it around in a video for CommonWealth Magazine. Please have a look.

Live-blogging tonight’s debate

If you’re interested — and even if you’re not — I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s Republican presidential debate, which begins at 9 p.m. on the Fox News Channel.

My apologies to those who subscribe to Media Nation by email. You may want to turn it off for the next few hours, as you will receive an email every time I update. The simplest solution is to send a blank email to You can always join again later.

9:08 p.m. A little bit of a minefield for Newt Gingrich coming out of the box. He negotiated it pretty skillfully, although his saying that he teaches generals “the art of war” was laugh-out-loud funny.

9:51. Gingrich is mangling Jefferson and Marbury v. Madison. He says he understands it better than lawyers. Good luck with that.

9:53. I am so sick of listening to Bachmann and Santorum I could scream. At least watching Perry trying to negotiate a simple sentence is entertaining.

9:57. Perry managed to name three Supreme Court justices. Let the bandwagon start rolling again.

9:59. I’m bailing on the live-blog, and will be live-tweeting the second half of the debate here.

Talking politics at

Check out our live chat at as election results come in.

Election Night in Danvers


Click on image for more photos.

Right after supper, Mrs. Media Nation, Media Nation Jr. and I headed over to the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers to cast our ballots in the 2010 election. It was a proud moment — this was our son’s first time voting, so we are now officially a three-voter household. Next time there should be four of us.

There are eight precincts in Danvers, and Precints 1 and 2 vote at the Holten Richmond. I was the 1,233rd person in Precinct 1 today. Given that the polls would close in a little more than an hour, that didn’t strike me as particularly high. Nor was there any line when we came in.

After voting, I took a couple of photos of the stalwart volunteers who had set up on the edge of Plains Park so they could wave to passing motorists. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. And, pretty soon, we should have some results.

Lessons for Obama and the Democrats

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s deficiencies as a Senate candidate don’t really explain the magnitude of what swept over her and the Democratic Party on Tuesday. Yes, Republican victor Scott Brown ran a vastly superior campaign, but that doesn’t explain it either.

Instead, what we saw was an outpouring of populist anger. And after a year of futile attempts to reach out to Republicans with compromised bills to stimulate the economy and reform health care, President Obama finds himself on the wrong side of that anger. The lesson he and Democrats need to learn is to embrace the anger rather than trying to defuse it. Otherwise, he’ll end up like Bill Clinton in 1994.

Or so I argue in the Guardian.

Photo (cc) by Mark Sardella and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Election-night plans

I’ll be spending my evening in front of the tube, mostly with New England Cable News (all is forgiven, sort of), in preparation for writing something for the Guardian later tonight. If you are not sufficiently distracted, I’ll probably post an occasional observation to Twitter.

The scene on the ground

Sign-holders outside Danvers High School

We voted at Danvers High School a few minutes after 9 a.m. The town consolidated all eight precincts there a year or so ago, yet it wasn’t all that crowded — sign-holders and poll workers outnumbered voters. We might have caught an odd lull because, as we were leaving, there was a line of cars waiting to get in.

Not fat, not a lady, but Nate Silver is singing

This may be the last polling analysis of the Massachusetts Senate race worth paying attention to before the voting starts tomorrow. According to Nate Silver, Republican candidate Scott Brown now has a 74 percent chance of winning. As recently as last night, Silver very tentatively gave Democrat Martha Coakley a 58 percent chance.

What happened? A series of polls throughout today that just got worse and worse for Coakley. Silver explains:

Coakley’s odds are substantially worse than they appeared to be 24 hours ago, when there were fewer credible polls to evaluate and there appeared to be some chance that her numbers were bottoming out and perhaps reversing. However, the ARG and Research 2000 polls both show clear and recent trends against her. Indeed the model, which was optimized for regular rather than special elections, may be too slow to incorporate new information and may understate the magnitude of the trend toward Brown.

What I like about Silver is that he’s not a pollster — rather, he’s someone who looks at a wide range of polls and makes sense of them. His record in the presidential campaign was outstanding.

This is very bad news for the Coakley campaign.

Why NECN didn’t carry Obama’s speech

I watched President Obama’s speech at Northeastern University online Sunday, so I didn’t realize until later that New England Cable News hadn’t carried it. I e-mailed NECN spokesman Skip Perham, and here is his response:

Over the life of the Obama administration we have consistently carried his policy speeches live.

We made the decision not to cover Martha Coakley’s rally featuring President Obama because it was a pure political event. We made the same decision about candidate Scott Brown’s event in Worcester.

If you take a look at NECN’s Sunday-afternoon schedule, you’ll see that it says “Paid Programming.”

Now, there’s an old cliché that elections have consequences. One of those consequences is that a speech by the president of the United States in your own back yard is by definition more newsworthy than a speech by Curt Schilling.

Was Obama’s speech purely political? Yes. But if NECN wants to amend its guidelines so that it will be able to carry all live speeches by the president within 10 miles of its headquarters, I don’t think station executives will have to inconvenience themselves more than once or twice a decade.

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