Sunday, April 27, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards: "The Cliff Notes of the news"

“Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? … But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score.”


You go there, Elizabeth, you go girl!

Man, something like this today has the thought creeping into your mind that, maybe, the wrong Edwards was running for President.

We speak of Elizabeth Edwards' NYT Op-Ed, "Bowling 1, Health Care 0"

Mrs. Edwards rips into the MSM, for covering the silly, the pap, and not being the beacon bulldogs of a robust democracy.
Why? Here’s my guess: The vigorous press that was deemed an essential part of democracy at our country’s inception is now consigned to smaller venues, to the Internet and, in the mainstream media, to occasional articles. I am not suggesting that every journalist for a mainstream media outlet is neglecting his or her duties to the public. And I know that serious newspapers and magazines run analytical articles, and public television broadcasts longer, more probing segments.

But I am saying that every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.

She laments that lack-of-coverage for all the candidates, people like Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, whose good policy plans went, virtually, unnoticed.

Or, as she questions "who decided that Fred Thompson was a serious candidate."
I’m not the only one who noticed this shallow news coverage. A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals.

Watching the campaign unfold, I saw how the press gravitated toward a narrative template for the campaign, searching out characters as if for a novel: on one side, a self-described 9/11 hero with a colorful personal life, a former senator who had played a president in the movies, a genuine war hero with a stunning wife and an intriguing temperament, and a handsome governor with a beautiful family and a high school sweetheart as his bride. And on the other side, a senator who had been first lady, a young African-American senator with an Ivy League diploma, a Hispanic governor with a self-deprecating sense of humor and even a former senator from the South standing loyally beside his ill wife. Issues that could make a difference in the lives of Americans didn’t fit into the narrative template and, therefore, took a back seat to these superficialities.

The essay is on-the-money and a good read.

And it has generated (for the most part; There's a few in the RWFS out there dissing it) good kudos.

Kevin Hayden: Strobe-light journalism: the ADD of campaign 2008

Bang The Drum: Elizabeth Edwards, I’d Vote for YOU

Mark Halperin: Elizabeth Edwards Points Finger at News Media

Take some time and read Elizabeth Edwards' "Bowling 1, Health Care 0"

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