Elizabeth Edwards has an op-ed in the New York Times where she outlines how our media seems far more interested in covering Hillary’s pants suit than any of her policy proposals.
I’m not the only one who noticed this shallow news coverage. A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals.
Watching the campaign unfold, I saw how the press gravitated toward a narrative template for the campaign, searching out characters as if for a novel: on one side, a self-described 9/11 hero with a colorful personal life, a former senator who had played a president in the movies, a genuine war hero with a stunning wife and an intriguing temperament, and a handsome governor with a beautiful family and a high school sweetheart as his bride. And on the other side, a senator who had been first lady, a young African-American senator with an Ivy League diploma, a Hispanic governor with a self-deprecating sense of humor and even a former senator from the South standing loyally beside his ill wife. Issues that could make a difference in the lives of Americans didn’t fit into the narrative template and, therefore, took a back seat to these superficialities.
Of course this is 110 percent true. The media doesn’t want to cover health care, monetary policy, or any other complex issue. The media wants to tell a story, an on-going narrative. This is done by turning each candidate into a cartoon like character and building on it and talking about it ad nauseum. Many of the so called experts and talking heads justify this process by saying it is important cause the public wants to know this junk. I don’t know about you but I sure don’t.