I copied the title of this post from a great post by Dave Winer, who has been doing an excellent job of blogging the U.S. presidential campaign. I’ve also been thinking about how extremely poorly the press (most notably the cable-TV channels) have been doing their jobs. Their coverage of the “lipstick on a pig” exchange was bad enough, but this new one (“Obama sponsored a bill to teach sex to kindergartners”) is outrageous.
The press I know best are the tech publications. The very worst among them do nothing more than reprint press releases as-is. No editing. No research. No contrast or comparison. No analysis. In short, no journalism whatsoever. And that’s what CNN/MSNBC/FOX have become, at best. As my wife pointed out, they’re all so afraid of not being first with a story and desperate for ratings, they’ll report anything. There’s absolutely no sense that they’ll deny anyone access to their platforms for any reason. Any candidate’s “spokesperson” can say whatever they want, and it gets aired. The more outrageous the better. Accusations have themselves become the “news.” Rather than reporting real news or writing (heaven forbid) analysis or criticism, they take the press releases as being newsworthy in and to themselves.
Remember the pre-Craigslist classified section of the newspaper? Even that showed more editorial discretion. These channels are now nothing more than outlets for whomever can yell the loudest or make the most outrageous claim. Hey…the anchors even spend hours commenting upon the fact that they shouldn’t be covering this stuff. How hypocritical is that?
Even shows like Meet the Press often feature political operatives rather than analysts. Why would I want to listen to someone who’s job is to make one candidate or another look good? Give me some more-independent thinking like News Hour’s Mark Shields and David Brooks.
As Dave writes, this must stop now. I’m turning off the television.