Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Press

Failure all the way around


Glenn Reynolds quotes reader M.A. Lamascolo:

“I disagree with 85% of Obama’s positions, but I want him and our country to succeed.  He can’t do that if he hasn’t been tested.  One of the best tests is a campaign.  But he didn’t have one of those, he had a coronation. [MSNBC’s Chris] Matthews and his colleagues across the media let our country down.  They gave Obama no vetting whatsoever.  Now Matthews wants to complain?  It’s a little late for that.”
And the failure wasn’t only with Obama.  The coverage of the Republicans wasn’t “a coronation,” but it wasn’t even a substantive attack.  Instead we got endless horse-racing, gaffe-spotting, and Sarah-Palin’s- Daughter’s-LoveChild irrelevance.

In a perfect world, press coverage of the political campaign would leave voters with some idea of the character of the candidates and the nature of their positions.  Which doesn’t mean puff pieces:  While candidates should get the opportunity to express their ideas, the press should hold candidates’ feet to the fire when inconsistency, vagueness, or illogic rear their heads.  Unfortunately, this type of coverage is harder than most.  Asking intelligent questions requires that the questioner understand the issue.[1]  It also requires the questioner to give the person questioned some benefit of the doubt, at least initially.  Far easier to play “gotcha,” rewrite some pollster’s latest press release, play gaffe-of-the-day, or play “he said/he said” using the opposing party’s talking points.

And so, actual campaign coverage has drifted so far away from this paradigm that it makes me wonder what “press” it is that the authors of articles like this one[2] have been reading.

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[1]  Although I have a “can’t go wrong” way for an unprepared reporter to cheat and still be relevant:  Candidate states his position/policy/program.  Reporter asks two questions: (1) “How do you plan to pay for this?” and (2) “How much will it reduce individual liberty?”

[2]  Via Daily Pundit.  I may have a complete post on the TNR article, provided I can avoid repeating myself.

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 16:31:21 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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