New Hampshire, Bill Gardner, Reporter discussed on Slate's The Gist

Slate's The Gist
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Seriously you could interpret that in a lot of ways what he does is he watches all these other states extremely closely and if anyone even comes close to getting close to our first nations spot he finds a way to Swat them away like nine hundred ninety nine when we went toe to toe with Iowa of all places that we've shown time and time again that the state of New Hampshire especially the political class will stand up and fight people off. This is why we chose stranglehold as title bill because despite all the things that the political class will tell you about how we offer such a great gift to people by being the first the nation primary. Because we're offering retail politics and in other states. It's you know candidates fly into the airplane. Hangar make it press conference announcement and fly out whereas here we can offer something but you know sure. That's the argument. But really when when it's come time time to fight. Overstaying I new Hampshire has really risen to the challenge whether it's political blackmail or fighting with their so-called brother over there in the first first in the nation state and Iowa new annual northbound down to the challenge and Bill Gardner is a huge huge part of that Bill Gardner when he sets the date. That's it he does not change and I did not understand how important that was to him. It seemed like no argument. No appeal to reason no openness to compromise compromise would work basically. It came down to this. I'm just going to cut to the chase. This is bullshit were New Hampshire and God damn it. You should move this is you know. I don't give a shit about Iowa and so what's been interesting for us as as we tried to tell the full story of Bill Gardner partner which is that over the last couple of years. He's become a much more controversial figure is even in his own party you know. He is a registered Democrat and yet conservatives have kind of really rushed I to back him lately because he takes a lot of stances on voting issues that are much more aligned with the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. And it's Kinda put Democrats in a weird spot where they feel like a lot of long standing lawmakers. Feel like we've got a relationship with this guy. He keeps the primary I you know. What are we supposed to do here? This is completely against what we believe. So they've been in kind of a rocky SPA and so when his last time for reelection and I should say he's elected by the New Hampshire legislature which I'm sure you know is massive and that became a really really interesting moment for them to kind of reflect on who they really want in that position. Now what you Gardner. So this is an irony. Here's the guy who is the guardian of elections. He's not even popularly elected he's elected but selected by the state legislature. And it's every two years ears right. Yes it is and for many many many years there really wasn't much of an election to be had. It was Kinda like pro forma situation because he was so popular and I should say despite all this controversy that I was just talking about he is extremely popular in the street legislature. And he's known around the state so you know it's been a pretty easy thing for him to run for quote unquote re election with all of his peers except for his most recent election which came down to like a nail biter which you know everyone was kind of taken taken aback by and the question at the end of the day for many lawmakers was. If we don't have Gardner who's GonNa keep the first in the nation primary because that I'm telling you is the thing around here. Yes yes. So how important is it. How important is it? Well what about monetarily. As opposed to just the psychic values are way to put a number on it. Well it's it's hard to really put it like a very complete number on it but I will say institutions like my own Alma Mater Saint College a small Liberal Arts College. Here you know the the debates from CNN all these big places would come in every four years and be hosted at the college. The college could then advertise students myself. Included here's a brochure. Look how you you can get involved with the primary. The presidential elections so. Unh same thing New England College. So you know that's not nothing that's certainly money going into a place that it wouldn't otherwise wer. wer Is our only television station. They get crazy ad revenue from candidates. Who Want To? Obviously I've television ADS on few one. TV Station in New Hampshire we. It should not even forget also that there are a lot of people who in the political class have made long careers off of this. There are people like who started on the Jimmy Carter Campaign Jeanne Shaheen among them. Who would go onto governor of New Hampshire and of course is now one of our most senior? US Senator so this thing is certainly helped a lot of people and it's benefited me. Do which we've been like very open about on the podcasts at Hampshire primary also benefits reporters and young college kids like myself who thought it was awesome to be able to talk to candidates. It's at my school. And then benefited from them. Obviously by being able to have be interviewed by reporters and then get internships. So yeah I would say it's hard to put an exact number on but it's definitely there's definitely benefits so here you are. You're sticking your thumb in the eye of this supposedly beloved institution. What kind of reaction are you getting from the people of New Hampshire and the person who is the topic of your first episode Bill Garner? Okay well I the people certainly been in Split. I will say that voters. We had a survey early on asking voters. Like what do you want your primary coverage and a Lotta people from New Hampshire. Wanted to know why the hell are we first so we were like well. This is good. We should tackle that if people here don't know that's a great thing to to help them understand so I would say that a lot of voters are really happy about it. We've also heard from people. Oh from other states who are like. Finally I understand why this thing is I and now I feel like I understand it. And its place in this larger tradition picking presidents and that's great but we've also got a lot of pushback from people who have started political careers off of this thing or people who feel were not saying enough enough about the great the greatness that the New Hampshire primary should provide I guess separate from that as far as Bill Gardner is concerned you know we had tried many times to reach out to him because we really wanted to talk to him for the first episode. He at that time it said that he wouldn't do an interview with us until he announced the the data the first nation primary which I should say is only up to him so he is the only person who knew when he would do that so obviously that meant that he was not going to be sitting down with us us. And and since that point we have heard and we're recording at a point when he told another national reporter that this podcast that we put together is full of lies and untruths and so we of course than we're like. Well you know we would really like to talk to you about that. What are you talking about? And he said he hadn't I heard it so he's still wouldn't do an interview unless we did it on his terms in the middle of this big press conference about announcing the date of the primary and so instead. We you kind of put an episode together last minute. That just showed why. He says he thinks it's full of on truth. which is that? He doesn't want he hasn't listened to it and other thoughts that he had about the first. The Nation primarily expressed in that press conference. And that's about as far as we've gotten but I think the short answer would be. He doesn't seem to be. You're happy with it even even though he didn't listen. Do you think if this were. I don't know twelve years ago and podcasting weren't the phenomena that it is and you were mostly playing playing to just or almost entirely playing to a new Hampshire crowd. Would this have been the kind of undertaking that the station was eager to commit commit to. That is a very good question. Because some of what we've been doing as we think about looking at this as an institution has had to look back at our own coverage and we do have. I've done coverage that really was like. Oh how cute is the primary and so we are just as I guess guilty of of this guardianship protective nature. I'm talking about where that I've seen in other organizations and I think that because We've shown that we can do investigative stories. We can tell the big stories that we can do narrative stories that made the newsroom. Feel like we could take a risk pulling me off the trail and and investing in a big question like this and looking at the primary in a different way but I also think that pike as are a big part of it because it would be a whole other thing too you know. Where would we have put it right? I mean you know public radio back then was where where newscasts were by the clock and I feel like we've all started to take a lot of risks lately about where we can put things in how we can tell stories But I would like to think that You know I cherish my colleagues and I think very highly of them and I'm I'm sure back then what my colleague Josh Rogers was here at that point and I know that he was thinking critically about the primary back then to you lauren. Children's podcast stranglehold has a stranglehold on my imagination. It is excellent. You're you're so much about the New Hampshire primary. Just take one second to step back and ask why Lauren. Jenner's reporter for New Hampshire public radio. Thank you Laura..

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