Friday, July 25, 2008

mediaFail™ - an epilogue.

As some of you may know I have an ongoing series of blogs called mediaFail™. In light of the growing collection, I thought an epilogue to the unraveling of the fourth estate in the US during this election cycle was necessary.

mediaFail™ has been around for some time (as seen in the build up and subsequent coverage of the Iraq war). But came into plain view in the treatment of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary.

Here's another first: the press's unique push to get a competitive White House hopeful to drop out of the race. It's unprecedented.

Looking back through modern U.S. campaigns, there's simply no media model for so many members of the press to try to drive a competitive candidate from the field while the primary season is still unfolding.

Until this election cycle, journalists simply did not consider it to be their job to tell a contender when he or she should stop campaigning. That was always dictated by how much money the campaign still had in the bank, how many votes the candidate was still getting, and what very senior members of the candidate's own party were advising.


No longer content to be observers of the campaign, journalists now see themselves as active players in the unfolding drama, and they show no hesitation trying to dictate the basics of the contest, like who should run and who should quit. It's as if journalists are auditioning for the role of the old party bosses.

It's a new brand of political commentary that leaves some veteran journalists perplexed. "The idea that it's your job to tell candidates when to get out, and really trying to control the whole process -- putting it in the hands of the journalists or the reporters or the columnists -- I find that to be new and different," Haynes Johnson told me last week. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Johnson has covered more than a dozen presidential campaigns and is currently working on a book about the unfolding 2008 contest.

The media coverage of this election however has gone to place that would be comical if not for how dangerous it is. Not only does the press literally think its part of the selection process but they are blaming bloggers for creating the 'gotcha' politics that have permeated the media coverage.

Um okay.

Maybe Alter's undies are in a twist because of the rise of the Commentocracy, with bloggers actually gaining some recognition for their importance in the election?

Which leads us to the latest edition of mediaFail™: Nagourney edition.

In a new article in The New Republic, Gabriel Sherman explains how the media love affair is over with Obama due to a variety of factors. Particularly the campaign's arrogance. But what's telling about the article is that the arrogance is perceived to be directed at.....


“I’ve never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others. I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I’m a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I’m a political opponent.” — New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney, on how the Obama campaign handles negative stories.


This is more about media arrogance and unleashed elitism than about a candidate. And I read a comment that perfectly summed up a message we should all be sending to the press.

How 'bout the media reports news, and doesn't try to get laid by the candidates?

No comments: