CHICAGO - Townhall columnist Brent Bozell's title "Purple States, Dark Blue Media" is an eye catcher for readers not only in Virginia, but in Illinois, a state that was purple before Governor George Ryan's dive - and whose voters are conservative outside the state's heavily populated urban centers.
Bozell's column gives specific examples how Virginia's "dark blue" media is creating havoc and skewing the public perception of Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor.
"Cuccinelli is running for governor this year, opposed by Terry McAuliffe, a fundraiser extraordinaire and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee," Bozell writes. "He's the consummate Washington insider, and as a result, the darling of The Washington Post."
That's a setup for a tough haul for any conservative Republican in a state like Virginia or like Illinois. Whoever Illinois' media picks as their favorite, the opponent can prepare to see his or her name smeared, criticized, insulted and scorned - or perhaps, the worst of all punishments "dark blue" media uses - ignoring the candidate altogether.
Bozell points out three areas when the Virginia media is stacking against Cuccinelli - something any candidates that aren't Illinois' "dark blue" media picks in 2014 should prepare to see over the next 12 months:
1. In a campaign dominated by each candidate's negative assessment of their opponent, Terry McAuliffe has received three times as many negative news stories (66) as positive ones (21). But that doesn't compare with the overwhelmingly dark spin on Cuccinelli, who received only four stories tilted toward a positive angle, and 95 stories accentuating the negative, or a 24-to-1 ratio. On the editorial page, the anti-Cuccinelli slant continues, with seven positive articles to 78 negative ones.
2. Cuccinelli is regularly described as a conservative candidate, which is not just fair but also useful. The reader should know his ideological bent. But how is it that his rival apparently is non-ideological? There were 26 "conservative" labels attached to Cuccinelli in news stories and editorials, but the four newspapers could not muster a single "liberal" label for McAuliffe.
3. Cuccinelli has received twice as many stories on his ethics controversies as his ethics-challenged opponent. During the study period of June 12 (after the Democrat primary) to Aug. 31, 91 news stories and 61 columns mentioned or discussed Cuccinelli's ethics, most of them referring to his acceptance of gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams. But only 48 news stories and 27 opinion articles talked about McAuliffe's ethical problems, mostly on his leadership of GreenTech Automotive, which is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Overall, readers could have found 152 stories on Cuccinelli's ethics, to only 75 on McAuliffe's.
Whoever Illinois' "dark blue" media picks in 2014 - and it could be a liberal, "open-minded" Republican - watch for how that candidate is covered and remember Virginia's Cuccinelli - McAuliffe race.
There's no question there's a need for a strong and robust alternative media in Virginia, and definitely one in Illinois.