Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Safer in the shallow end

Eric Boehlert on the shallowness of the coverage of the presidential race: It's never the media's fault.

ABC's The Note took Bill Clinton to task for complaining about the media's substance-free coverage of the presidential race. Boehlert observes:
As for Clinton's actual point about campaign coverage being void of substance, The Note never bothered to refute the charge. How could it? The day Clinton made his observation, itself pretty much proved his point when, in a round-up of the day's key Clinton-related news stories, it highlighted one of its own dispatches about how the Clinton campaign had dropped a Celine Dion song as its campaign theme. It presented that breaking news nugget as further proof that it was "another rough stretch for Camp Clinton." No joke. Also, that same day, the artwork for The Note featured a photoshopped image of Clinton dressed up as a man and a photoshopped image of Obama dressed up as a woman. Again, no joke.
Boehlert quotes a survey by Harvard's Center for Public Leadership National Leadership Index:
[T]he press receives the lowest ratings of all. This is troubling, because democracies rely on a vibrant, probing, and trusted press. This year, we dig more deeply into the public's views on news media election coverage. The key finding: Americans' lack of confidence in the press stems from deep unease about bias and editorial content.
According to the survey:
88 percent agree that the news media focuses too much on trivial rather than important issues.
Surely not.

Glenn Greenwald observes today how non-establishment candidates are handled by the establishment-leaning media:
Such outsider candidates begin as the nerdy losers to be held up by our campaign journalists for adolescent, giggly mockery. If their campaigns prosper, they become the target of outright hostility (see, e.g., the media's role in the destruction of Howard Dean's candidacy in 2003). In different ways, that has been the arc of media treatment accorded to Paul, Huckabee and Edwards, all of whose candidacies -- for better or worse -- represent something significant in our political culture, represent direct challenges to prevailing conventional pieties and dominant power centers, and yet (or, rather, therefore) are treated as silly jokes when they are discussed at all.
And the FCC want's McMedia to be able to get bigger and us even dumber:
WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission approved rules yesterday that allow publishers to own both newspapers and broadcast stations in the biggest US cities and that limit growth for cable companies.

Chairman Kevin Martin and the other two Republicans on the five-member panel backed the loosened rules for newspaper owners, which modify a ban adopted in 1975. Martin joined the agency's two Democrats in approving the cable limit.

Publishers Tribune Co. and News Corp. had said the ownership proposal didn't go far enough, while consumer groups said it threatened diversity in local media. The FCC disregarded 25 US senators who vowed in a letter released Monday to block the decision. They said more time is needed to review a policy that has "a substantial impact on the American people."
[h/t Glenn Greenwald]

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