The Times Can Almost Taste a Talent-less Senate

The Times spotlights Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri and his "conservative" positions on stem cell research, in a story where conservative labels outnumber liberal labels 9-1.

Susan Saulny reports Sunday on the tight Missouri senate race between sitting Republican Sen. Jim Talent and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill, and boils it down to the liberal issue of stem cells.

"Missouri Candidates Step Lightly on Stem Cell Measure" contains nine "conservative" labels, compared to one measly reference to "more liberal voters. There is also one reference to "more conservative legislators." The Times clearly thinks (hopes?) Sen. Talent is in danger because of his opposition to a Missouri ballot measure on stem cell research, a cause favored by liberals.

"Over cocktails one recent Monday night at a Democratic fund-raiser in New York, Claire McCaskill, the Democratic Senate candidate in Missouri, played up her support for stem cell research.

"But at a campaign appearance here in rural and largely conservative Kirksville, Ms. McCaskill never mentioned the subject.

"Similarly, her Republican opponent, Senator Jim Talent, came out against a statewide ballot measure on stem cell research at the strong urging of conservative Christians. But when Mr. Talent recently addressed an electricians' trade group at a resort on the Lake of the Ozarks, he did not speak of his opposition."

The article goes on in that vein, finding ideologues on only one side of the debate until the second-to-last paragraph. Even there, the one puny liberal label is outnumbered by conservative citations.

"Meanwhile, the Senate candidates continue to look for swing voters. Ms. McCaskill is working long hours to shore up her standing in the state's rural counties, where weak support from conservative voters contributed to her narrow defeat in the governor's race in 2004 and where opposition to the stem cell initiative tends to be strong. At the same time, Mr. Talent is trying to win the support of more liberal voters in urban areas, where his conservative views on stem cell research generally are not well received."