The 2008 Presidential elections are unique for many reasons. It is the first time since 1928 that neither major political party had an heir apparent. It is a year where major issues were discussed and where American faced strategic challenges. Candidates and voters were all finding news ways to connect via information technology and information outlets not even available in 2006.
It is therefore appalling that the mainstream news media (MNM) has completely opted-out of the proceedings. This is according to a new report compiled by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.
The study monitored Presidential campaign coverage by 46 MNM outlets since January 1, 2008. Nearly 80 percent of the coverage was about the race itself – polls, results, and campaign activities. Eleven percent dealt with candidate crises like Reverend Wright or Bill Clinton’s role in Hillary’s campaign. Less than 7 percent of the stories were about the policy stands of the candidates. The MNM’s examination of the candidates’ actual records made up less than 2 percent of the news stories.
The American public deserves far better than this. The multi-million talking, and sometimes “shrieking”, heads should be ashamed of themselves. Americans are facing major issues with the economy, immigration, the environment, healthcare, and energy. There is a real substantive debate about the role of government in America and America’s role in the world. Each candidate pledges change, but we should find out what kind and how much is really going to happen if they are elected. None of this seems to matter to the MNM.
As I have observed in other columns, the overpaid reporters and anchors of the MNM would rather be drama critics (covering the performance) or sportscasters (covering the race). These are the easiest things to report, as they require no more than looking at the same things everyone else is seeing and then making some high-handed comment that supposedly enlightens us poor mortals. Shame on the MNM for ignoring real news. Shame on us for watching their drivel.