Sunday, November 14, 2010

More About the Horse Race

Last week, I mentioned something in passing that this week reminded me of, and I thought I might ramble about it a bit. In specific, this week's political prognostication about the 2012 elections reminded me of my comments on the media's drama addiction last week, and finding out that they're already talking about the elections of two years from now with scarcely even a pause for breath from talking about the ramifications of the 2010 elections,'s hard not to notice, isn't it?

Elections are the perfect kind of news for corporations following the "news as entertainment" model. (Which is, and has always been, most of them--I don't want to suggest that this is some sort of "things used to be better back in the Good Old Days" post. Far from it--anyone who thinks that Rupert Murdoch is controlling the content of Fox News too much should read David Halberstam's "The Powers That Be", where he talks about the ways that the old newspaper magnates ruthlessly suppressed dissenting points of view.) The election provides the same kind of excitement and action that you get in a sporting competition, with clear winners and losers as you approach a finish line, but you can always claim that any article about the upcoming election is a legitimate, serious political discussion because the person who wins will be deciding our nation's future.

But realistically speaking, they're all treating it with about the same degree of concern as ESPN does for the baseball season. (Actually, possibly less. At least ESPN anchors are allowed to admit that they have a favorite team that they root for.) The endless polls are just a way of keeping score, sound clips from the debates are played like highlights on SportsCenter, and once the election's over? Who cares about who won and what it means, it's time to look forward to the next big game! As a result, the actual importance of governing is diminished in favor of campaigning. And whoever winds up winning, we all lose when that happens.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Reminds me a lot of what Jon Stewart said at his rally.

Still, what percentage of the voters actually gets their news from the cable media channels? How many of them bother to follow this stuff at all?

I've met a lot of people in the past who couldn't care less about Fox News, or MSNBC, or The Daily Show, or whatever. They're what makes up the undecided voter demographic, which proves so crucial each year.

Of course, there's then the question of what the bigger problem is: If the voters pay too much attention to the media circus, or if the politicians pay too much attention to it, and whether either group is aware of this.