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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control: MSNBC discovers the McMorris Rodgers/Brown race

It was only a matter of time before national news reporters started parachuting into Spokane to cover the 5th Congressional District race between Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Lisa Brown.

Among the first to pull the ripcord was an MSNBC Capitol Hill reporter, Garrett Haake, out in April to provide a 3-minute view of the contest to the 24-hour news channel’s audience. He managed to catch McMorris Rodgers in an orange apron helping folks at a Home Depot and Brown at a cattle ranch.

Debate among yourselves which is the stranger venue for those two candidates. It may be a tossup.

Haake made some fairly standard mistakes about the area. First, he called Washington a “mostly blue state,” which is only true if you look at statewide election results. Considering he’s looking at roughly a third of the state geographically that votes Republican, it seems that would be the more salient point.

And numerically, four of the state’s 10 House members are Republicans, something a Capitol Hill reporter should have known. That makes it a fairly purple, perhaps blue-violet in the Crayola box of states.

In the checkout line, McMorris Rodgers greets someone on camera who comes back with “I know who you are … I’m not going to vote for you.” It’s a sound bite that had state Democrats practically doing back flips as they sent out tweets and contribution-seeking emails.

The link to the full piece can be a bit balky and slow to load, so some folks who wanted to catch it in its entirety may give up. The scenes at the cattle ranch, which occur late in the segment, may be the most interesting, but also the weirdest.

Apparently subscribing to the idea that everything non-urban between the two coasts is “fly-over country”, Haake hypothesizes that many people would find it strange to find a Democrat standing at a cattle ranch in Eastern Washington. There are a lot of rural Democrats, although not as many as there used to be, Brown replies.

“For there to be one more rural Democrat in Congress, Brown must out-campaign Rodgers…” Haake says in the voice-over segue to his next shot. Apparently he didn’t bother to find out that Brown represented the most urban legislative district east of the Cascades.

Pronounced with a long O, short A

At least MSNBC did enough research to correctly pronounce Spokane so it didn’t rhyme with cocaine. That’s better than President Trump did when he introduced Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning at the White House.

That’s not the president’s fault, by the way. The White House staff is supposed to flag tricky pronunciations. If they can’t do that, Trump better hope the next teacher of the year isn’t from Puyallup, Sequim, Tulalip or Hoquiam.

Who you calling superstar?

The McMorris Rodgers campaign was in high dudgeon – a primary emotion for raising money – about a tweet from Rosie O’Donnell.

The sometime comedian, talk show host and Trump foe took to Twitter on Wednesday to urge people to contribute to ActBlue to send money to Brown.

ActBlue, for those unfamiliar, is sort of a money funneling operation, primarily for progressive Democrats, although they give to Republicans on rare occasions. Donors can give money earmarked for a candidate.

O’Donnell “used her superstar status to rally the left behind liberal Lisa Brown,” the finance director of the McMorris Rodgers campaign groused in an email asking for money for the incumbent Republican. “This is just another example of ultra-liberal Hollywood elites trying to buy elections all over the country.”

McMorris Rodgers herself has picked up a bit of money from California, although apparently none from Hollywood, and only one donor with a name as recognizable as Rosie O’Donnell. That would be Charles Schwab, chairman of the brokerage company that carries his name, who gave her $5,400 at the end of 2017.

One wonders if calling O’Donnell a “superstar” will get the campaign in trouble with Trump, with whom she has a long-running feud. Over the years Trump has called O’Donnell a loser, a dummy, a slob, obnoxious and a string of other unflattering adjectives.

In the MSNBC segment, McMorris Rodgers said she’d welcome the president to come to her district. If that happens, maybe the Brown campaign can counter with a visit by O’Donnell.