Election Chatter

Joseph Kennedy III Wins

By Monique Scott
Boston University News Service

NEWTON – Massachusetts will send another Kennedy to Congress in January, following Joseph Kennedy III’s easy victory in the redrawn 4th Congressional District.

As the crowd gathered in a Newton motel cheered “Let’s Go Joe,” the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy walked across stage to tell the appreciative crowd, “This is an incredible moment.”

Kennedy, whose father Joseph Kennedy II, also served in Congress, defeated Republican Sean Bielat with a preliminary 64 to 36 percent lead, to fill the seat left by U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, who is retiring after 30 years.

Kennedy offered a special “shout out,” to Frank, for his support throughout the campaign.

“I’m standing on the shoulders of giants,” he said. “Words can’t do justice for what you’ve done for the people of this district and of the country.”

Kennedy also praised Bielat for running a good campaign, praising him for his hard work and dedication to the state.

Kennedy was introduced by Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who shared his moments with Kennedy he campaigned, listening to the voters concerns.

“He walked the streets with me but more importantly, he listened to the concerns of the people,” said Warren.

The former prosecutor for the Middlesex County and Harvard Law grad, campaigned on the promise to help create middle class jobs by supporting alternative energy, public education and creating capital for small businesses.

“This is the best part of the longest days,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy thanked his family and election workers.

“I have the best campaign staff ever assembled,” he said.

As Kennedy came to the end of his speech, he thanked his fiancé and gave her all the praise for being his “sanity,” throughout the campaign.

The crowd cheered again as Kennedy smiled.

“Go celebrate!” he said. “We are just getting started.”

Taxi Driver Says No to Voting

By Grace O’Donnell
Boston University News Service 

This year, Antoine Paraiso isn’t voting. The 46-year-old immigrant from Gabon has been a US citizen for 18 years, but no matter. The last two years he has spent as a taxi driver persuaded him not to bother with the polls on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to vote because I don’t believe that with either candidate, anything will change for me,” he said.

Paraiso, a Jamaica Plain resident, voted for Obama in 2008, but since then, said none of Obama’s actions have helped him or the economy.

Paraiso’s discontent stems from losing his job two years ago after working for 13 years at Verizon. His job, he says, was outsourced to India. Now, he drives a Boston Metro Cab five to six days per week to help support his 10-year-old son. He had tried to boost his employment chances several years ago when he earned a technical degree from a New Jersey community college; back then, he drove a New York City cab at night to support himself through school.

“I agree with people who say Obama is an ideologue,” he said of the president he once supported. “He told us all what we wanted to hear but his plans aren’t coming through.” But, he added, he does not believe that Romney will be any better.

“Romney doesn’t have a solid plan fora  budget,” he said. “Romney believes that if job creators have tax cuts they will have more money to hire people. He’s just going to make companies and wealthy people a lot richer.”

He believes that neither Obama nor Romney can get the US economy out of all its debt or reverse companies’ decisions to outsource work.

“My job isn’t coming back from overseas,” he said.

And as for his civic duty? Paraiso believes that he is still fulfilling that obligation. He is staying out of an election he does not believe in and trying to manage with what he must.

Just the Facts on the Web Sites

By Kelia Cowan
Boston University News Service

The emphasis on fact checking in this presidential election reached the point where nearly every major newspaper in the United States ran an article after each debate with some variation of the headline “Fact-checking the presidential debate.”

“[Fact checking] has certainly found an audience and is of great use to voters,” said Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org. “It doesn’t change the candidates; we didn’t think it would. […] Instead, we are making voters harder to fool.”

Although news organizations have printed articles that verify or debunk statements made by candidates for years, the materialization of an organization that solely checks validity is a fairly new concept. Jackson, in combination with Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, in December 2003 started the first bipartisan website that analyzed the truthfulness of claims: FactCheck.org. Jackson, who had been working with Jamieson on a book about the veracity of the 2004 campaign, said putting the information they collected online was an afterthought.

Within a year of its founding, FactCheck.org was getting 200 to 300 new readers per day. The website has since expanded to include FactCheckED.org, which provides teachers with classroom tools to teach students how to see through the political haze.

FactCheck.org is by no means alone. Other fact-checkers include Tampa Bay Times’s Politifact and Washington Post’s The Fact Checker blog, written by Glenn Kessler. Across the Atlantic Ocean, Cathy Newman blogs Channel 4’s FactCheck in the U.K.

Politifact expanded its presidential coverage to include a live twitter update on the contentions of candidates during the debates. The staff ranks statements from “true” to “pants on fire” on both their web posts and on their twitter account. Politifact won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign.

“We’ve affected some of the discourse. The president brought it up in the last debate—are you being truthful?” said Amy Hollyfield , Politifact’s assistant managing editor . “It’s a dominant theme we are seeing now.”

But providing fact-checking does not always win fans. Jackson and Hollyfield both said their organizations receive negative comments from angry partisan readers and campaign press secretaries.

“We’re in the business of calling people out on what they say,” Hollyfield said. “We get [criticism] from both sides.”

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