Bored of Elections

Big Media is exhausted. Big Media is unhappy. Big Media is grumbling.

For a while Big Media enjoyed the early campaign. They could concentrate on the exciting horse race aspect of the campaign and ignore writing about issues. Issues after all are so mind numbing. Issues can be complex, in fact they usually are complex. Issues have advocates on all sides which complain about whatever you write. Writing about issues also requires thinking up a narrative, then doing the research to support that narrative – or at least that seems to be the process our journalism schools are teaching these days.

So, our Big Media friends, for a time, were happy to trot about the country like newborn colts, writing about the presidential campaigns. Then, trouble.

It turns out campaigns are exhausting. Every day candidates like Hillary are flying from city to city, from state to state, from event to event, giving speeches and speaking with voters. Big Media gets tired, then exhausted, then whiny, then petulant, then downright angry at all this work. What to do? Solution: dig up some voters who will say the voters are tired and write about that. Problem solved.

Here is today’s contribution from the Quad City Times:

“So do you have campaign fatigue yet? If so, contact your local political reporter immediately.

The New York Times carried a story Monday featuring voters from across the country, including Iowa, who are lamenting the unprecedented early intensity of the presidential race. It’s just the latest in a string of stories and commentaries exploring the idea that “too much, too soon” is not a good thing for voters.

On the other hand, as the article also asserts, interest in the election is high. Iowans are showing up in droves for campaign events, especially enthusiastic Democrats who like their chances in November 2008. There really is a palpable sense here that the election at hand is a crucial one deserving of extra time and closer scrutiny.

So which is it, an excruciatingly long, mind-numbing march or a judicious, necessary marathon that tests the mettle of candidates who want to be the nation’s leader at a critical moment? There are good arguments on both sides.”

As the Quad City Times noted, it was the New York Times that sounded the lunch bell for reporters. Yes, Adam Nagourney’s article notes the high level of voter interest in this election. The article also notes that voters understand the importance of this election. However, let’s also understand that this is usually how Big Media begins its “bored” routine.

The “bored” routine and blame the voter syndrome is best exemplified at the New York Times by the troubled Patrick Healy. Healy, in Paris (France, not Texas), overcame his exhaustion with Iowans by interviewing Parisians. Healy, still pretends that Americans are bored with this election in general and with Hillary in particular. Oh, but those Kerry loving French, they do love that Hillary.

I left the Iowa campaign trail last Thursday and headed further east, to Paris, where I’ve definitely encountered more how’s-Hillary-doing questions than I expected – from not only friends but complete strangers, ex-pats and locals and Europeans alike.

You tell someone here that you write about Mrs. Clinton and their eyes tend to light up rather than glaze over. The seemingly epic (and epically long) 2008 presidential campaign actually gets people’s blood boiling in cafes and bars in Paris, instead of inducing Valium-like torpor that I’ve seen out and about in Manhattan. (Then again, talking about the Hugo Boss sale on the Champs Elysees can also consume real minutes.

Our apologies to the French but reporters like Healy should stay in Paris. Let them drink bottles of champs on the Champs. They can amuse the French, expats and other Europeans with tales of bored Americans. Let them misinform the continentals. But leave us alone. Americans under Bush are downtrodden enough.

Americans are not bored. We are angry.

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7 thoughts on “Bored of Elections

  1. the big media is bored becuase their candidates are failing and hillary is doing really well. GO HILLARY GO!!!!

  2. Hillary is so far above all the other candidates for President – Democrat and Republican – that the only real threat to her candidacy is laziness from Big Media. Now, attributing the problems of our National media to just one attribute, like laziness, is a little too simplistic, for the roots of their problem is much deeper.

    But whatever the roots of their problem is, the result is reporting that would be too stupid for any middle-school newspaper.

    Case in point is the ridiculous and counter-factual storyline or “script” that was mentioned in virtually every Hillary article, (until after three dominating debate appearances the reality could no longer be ignored), that Hillary is “unelectable.” If you take the “Hillary is unelectable” Lego-block and piece it together with the “Hillary is calculating” Lego-block and then throw in the “Is Bill going to be a problem” Lego-block you have a story called “Hillary Clinton.” Sure, this story is ready-made, more parts fantasy than reality, and in its simplicity suited for a two-year old, but alas, this is what we get with such august publications as the New York Times. You thought I was going to say the Post? No, we know what to expect from that and other yellow rags, it is the misinformation from those newspapers pretending to be respectable that is far more insidious.

    Now, to be fair to Big Media, reporting is hard work, and it is much easier to build something with ready made Lego-blocks than from the ground up – I think because you don’t have to think as much?

    Where do these Lego-block come from you ask? Well, by virtue of never doing an ounce more reporting than minimally necessary (which is not a lot considering Big Media is struggling to keep up with the standards set by their 12-year old kids school newspapers) you pick up on a LOT of inside-the-beltway talking points. Once these Beltway Lego-blocks get passed around enough times, the New York Times decides to pick up the pieces and build their story, and then it is a nationwide free-for-all.

    The most important thing to remember for those wishing to mimic Big Media is that once the New York Times uses one of these Lego-blocks you can just lift the piece wholesale for every subsequent article on that topic. This makes work a lot easier, doesn’t it? Or should I say, a lot less hard?

    HI44 has been doing an astounding job pointing out how these Lego-blocks inform Big Media and how often these pieces are simply just the wrong pieces – counterfactual, gossipy, sexist. Hopefully, someone will do an in depth story on the house that Lego-built considering Hillary. It will be fun to see how many “Hillary is unelectable” stories there are with no evidence whatsoever to back this assertion up Contrast these to polling data showing that Hillary is in fact 44. Which is more accurate, the only “scientific” evidence we have at this point to tell us the feelings of the electorate, or talking-points based on anectdotal evidence and the feelings of our opinion-makers? Replace “accurate” with “easier” and you have your anwser.

    Anyway, we are in a big mess, and I’m not going to speculate on the deep psychological problems behind Big Media’s ineptness, but I think you have to remember who these people (Big Media) are, and how terrified they are to relive their awful high-school memories of being on the outside, never part of the club, never “in-it.” Now that they are in some fashion part of the club, they will do whatever it takes to remain there. And that means repeating what everyone else is saying regardless of whether it is true or not. After all, the truth is hard work.

  3. aNewNEWDEAL,

    I suggest you write diaries on mydd and dailykos. Sure, they are enemy territories, but we need to spread out the truth of Hillary.

  4. I agree with kostner—great analysis. Those “lego-blocks’ are still getting passed around and not just in print media. Watch the Sunday morning talk shows–ABC This Week in particular. I haven’t watched this show for some time but recently decided to give it a try. This past month it’s been negative Hillary comments every weekend (the pundits there rave about Obama however). I haven’t heard a positive about Hillary there yet..

  5. i agree with kostner, but beware of the slings and arrows lobbed your way by the haters on mydd and daily kos. they can make the most rabid rightwinger blush the way they trash hillary. i really cannot understand the hatred they have for her. can anybody explain the rational of the haters on those blogs against hillary?

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