Election 2012

This is What's Wrong with Political Coverage

John Heilemann's review of the Republican debate over the weekend is a fantastic example of why American political coverage is so awful, superficial and stupid.

He graded it based on style and "punches" rather than content, validity and accuracy.

This, of course, means that any of the candidates could stand up there and say, "I helped a fuzzy dude cut a piece of fruit and when he was chewin' on it I mooshed it and called an ambulance!" and the press wouldn't notice -- that is unless the crowd booed or another candidate said, "Your campaign is a fuzzy dude!" Then, BOOM! So and so got a punch in there!

  • GrafZeppelin127

    It really is remarkable how interviewers, debate moderators, and the like allow political candidates (especially, but not exclusively, Republicans) to get away with making affirmative statements of things that are either false, inaccurate, misleading, mischaracterizations or distortions of reality, as if they were not only true but self-evident. It’s one reason why GOP politicians and candidates get so much mileage out of promising to fix things that aren’t broken, to “start” doing things that are already being done, to “put a stop to” things that no one is doing, to “allow” things that are already legal and “prevent” things that are already against the law or that no one is proposing. It’s why Michelle Bachmann can get away with trying to make the President look bad by saying that gasoline cost about $1.85 a gallon in January 2009, and leaving it at that, while no one points out that only four months earlier it was approaching $5 let alone explains why it collapsed so precipitously, why it got that high in the first place, or why it has since gone back up.

    Saying things is easy. Understanding things is hard.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Janes/607039439 Rick Janes

      Good points, Graf. I haven’t seen all of the GOP debates, but in the ones I’ve seen, I have yet to hear any of the MSM panel challenge the Republicans who advocate keeping Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy by asking, “Haven’t we tried that for ten years? Why don’t we have more jobs now?” I also haven’t heard the Quislings take Romney to task for cutting jobs while head of Bain Capital, the ‘experience as a business leader’ he likes to brag about. Newt hasn’t been asked why he didn’t keep his promises in his 1994 ‘Contract with America’ — e.g.: there have been no term limits imposed on Republicans in Congress. I could go on, but my point is, they never hold their feet to the fire on the most basic jounalistic questions, as well as letting the GOP candidates get away with huge fabrications of history, both their own and the nation’s.

  • MarshallLucky

    You can’t expect much else from a media (and a citizenry) that long-since started viewing politics as a sporting event. We’re winding down on the regular season and now the the best teams are jockeying for position in the playoffs.

  • muselet

    “Awful, superficial and stupid.” And easy, don’t forget easy. And safe.

    Our wonderful news media cover elections the way they do because nobody will yell at them if they do—nobody who counts, anyway (if you don’t have ads to pull, you don’t count). We get this sort of sloppy, mind-numbing bilge masquerading as informed commentary because it’s easier than spending five minutes with the googles doing basic fact-checking. We get horse-race coverage because the talking heads can hide behind public-opinion polls instead of doing basic fact-checking. We get political operatives arguing with other political operatives on the public airwaves because then our wonderful news media get to preen over how neutral and objective they are.


    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Janes/607039439 Rick Janes

      As George Orwell said more than 60 years ago, referring to newsrooms, “Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.” And, as George Seldes said in the ’30s, alluding to the atmosphere of the typical newsroom: “We scent the air of the office; we realize that certain things are wanted, certain things unwanted.”

      The opinions and editorial outlook of our MSM come mainly from circus dogs with good noses.

  • holyreality

    Personally I LIKE Ron Paul.

    Sure he comes off as a loon, and is associated with many libertarian bogeymen, but he is sincere, sane, and follows the law wherever he acts within his duties.

    Every statement of his at the debate, filtering out the stammering and stuttering, was what I wanted to hear. Fidelity in marriage is one thing, but every candidate there broke their oaths of office, what he takes seriously.

    Ron would instigate a regime that brings howls of anguish from the liberals, but I’m thoroughly confident that he would never abuse the office, nor would he go cowboying around in his foreign policy.

    But sane and law abiding are not what the GOP is looking for, those qualities are just not sexy.

    • http://rob.yurkowski.net/ Rob Yurkowski

      I like Ron Paul to the extent that he’s relatively consistent; it’s his positions that are completely intolerable.

      I’m also most worried about the prospect of his nomination, since he would at least partially dip into Obama’s comfortable margin on sane voters. While the other GOP candidates seem to like their faulty premises and faulty logic, Paul at least has correct logic; he just comes to the wrong conclusion because of faulty premises.

      I think that’s the nicest thing I can say about him. Yes, he has things in his platform that are siren songs to young and affluent people, such as ending marijuana prohibition and ending foreign involvement, but the things he does believe in — ending abortion, abolishing the Dept. of Education and the EPA, for three — are terribly misguided. Furthermore, his supporters misjudge what he would be capable of doing as the solitary chief executive. The president is the man whose job is to sign bills; it’s the other five hundred and thirty five people who they honestly have the issue with.

      (And if you want to make the argument that he personally stands for the above-stated policies, but wants to leave the issues up to the States, just remember that if it were up to the States, slavery would be legal in a big handful of them. There are things that the federal government does best, and to prevent it from doing those things is hypocritical when you’re a small government conservative.)

      • holyreality

        Thanks for being nice about it.

        As my grandma always said, if you can’t say anything nice ,don’t say anything at all.

        Obviously she would have made a piss poor blogger :P

    • MrDHalen

      I can’t like a guy who sees nothing wrong with watching one of his own campaign staff members suffer from cancer and not provide him with health insurance; then suggest he look to charity for help.

      • holyreality

        That is cold, and I understand your reason.

        I have not heard of these despicable aspects, just judging from what he says whenever a mic is turned his way.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Janes/607039439 Rick Janes

          Holyreality, he named his son Rand after Ayn Rand, the mother of goofball idolize-the-rich Objectivist selfishness that has led to our present dismal situation. Just because Paul sounds sane on some issues, is not a good enough reason to give him the keys to the kingdom; Bill O’Reilly plays the same trick.

  • Bob McIntosh

    Hoo Hah! Cherry Pie!

  • JMAshby

    This, of course, means that any of the candidates could stand up there and say, “I helped a fuzzy dude cut a piece of fruit and when he was chewin’ on it I mooshed it and called an ambulance!” and the press wouldn’t notice

    Thanks. I needed a good laugh.

    You’re right, though. Not that it’s a big shock in our not-really-real-reality-TV obsessed culture where substance means little and style means everything.

    Americans have the media they inadvertently ask for.