The SunRail Slant

     You really have to wonder why the Orlando Sentinel is so blatantly biased in its reporting on SunRail. I can recall very few times when I have seen a mainstream daily paper produce such one-sided coverage of a controversial topic as the Sentinel has on the proposed 61-mile commuter rail system. 
    Cases in point:  The Sentinel ran two section-front “news” stories and a My Word op-ed column on SunRail on three consecutive days this month. The two news reports, on Nov. 11 and 13, were headlined “Legislators close to SunRail deal” and “Confident Dyer says SunRail approval near.” The earlier story began this way: “After two embarrassing defeats, the SunRail commuter train could be on the verge of winning approval in the state Legislature.”
     Embarrassing? How so? And who was embarrassed?
     Both stories sounded similar themes: SunRail supporters thought they had the votes in the Florida Senate to get the liability hold-up resolved in a special session, possibly to be held in early December.
     Only scant reference to SunRail opponents was given in each story, and neither story went into any detail on a new bill that was said to address problems with the liability issue.  Neither story showed any attempt to get a comment from CSX on whether it would agree to pay for insurance coverage or accept liability for accidents caused by its negligence.
     Seat-warming U.S. Sen. George LeMieux’s op-ed piece, “My Word: Time to get rail on track”, on Nov. 12, basically restated arguments that SunRail would relieve traffic problems and provide jobs, possibly even help Florida land $2.6 billion in federal funds to build a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa.
     Not like we all haven’t heard that before in the Sentinel. (And, on the other hand, SunRail wouldn’t relieve I-4 congestion, as the Florida Department of Transportation’s ridership projections show, and many of the jobs it would allegedly create would be in the public sector, meaning another layer of government to support.)   
      The Sentinel definitely deserves the Slantinel moniker for its biased reporting on SunRail.   The daily’s coverage of SunRail is as thin as the reasons supporters give for its benefits. 
      Here are the stories:
         
www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-sunrail-dyer-20091113,0,7838993.story

www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-myword-sunrail-lemieux-111209-20091111,0,1651983.story

www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-sunrail-dyer-20091113,0,7838993.story