Media Specatcle, Its Good for You

17 04 2008

In covering such timely topics as flag pins, gaffes, and the ruminations of 1960’s radicals, George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson, as moderators of the billionth Democractic Presidential debate, offered viewers a tour de force in political tabloid journalism.

Of course, not everyone felt that there should have been more attention paid to the foreclosure crisis and accompanying credit crunch, the recent spate of violence in Iraq, achieving educational equity, the perils of global warming, and how to reverse the damage of the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror policies. Some people like the theater and spectacle of gotcha journalism.

In his post on the NYT blog Campaign Stops, David Brooks praised the probing of these “symbolic issues,” while assuring the rest of his that he feels our pain.

I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that. The candidates each looked foolish at times, but that’s their own fault.

We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues.

Important to who and why? Has David Brooks not observed the last few months of the campaign and including the previous debates? A lot of accusations have been made by both sides with varying degrees of truth to them ever since the Iowa caucuses, and even more so after Super Tuesday. A great deal of so-called symbolic questions were asked in previous debates too such as whether or not Obama was in fact a Christian or if he would “renounce and reject” a completely unsolicited half hearted endorsement by Louis Farrakhan.

We have been feed a steady diet of sideshows and fake controversies passing for scandals for several months that have not amounted to anything but an annoying distractions and now we are told that we should swallow more of it because its good for us?

Oh please.




One response

17 04 2008

I agree. It’s sort of like the “Eat Your Lima Beans!” syndrome.

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