Rarely is it asked: is our media shining us on with the way they cover our Presidential elections? When's the last time you heard cogent policy analysis that dissects and compares the candidates' take on the big issues of the day? Maybe around the time of the Teapot Dome scandal? Does it feel sometimes like we are left to base our decisions on things like hairstyle, suit color, handshake, or the relative volume as they declaim on whether the Iraq War is the greatest war or the greatest war ever? Well, Matt Taibbi thinks so, and making our must-read list for today is his latest article for Rolling Stone: "THE LOW POST: The Return of Evil Campaign Journalism." In it, Taibbi provides an illustrative and edifying roadmap with which one can follow the course of Campaign 2008 before it even happens!
Let's break it down.
1. The Election Cycle Commences Way Too Soon
"The election, after all, is nearly a full Martian year away, with a Super Bowl and two World Series still to play out in between..." True dat! Why, there are three championship teams that Don Imus still hasn't slandered!
2. The Election Cycle Begins in a Seinfeld Stage
It's a "show about nothing", and by reliably purging their initial coverage of anything remotely substantive, the press is certain to keep it that way for as long as possible. Instead, as Taibbi points out, the story remains "a prolonged prime-time character-driven drama crafted around a series of fake conflicts that always get resolved by the end of the program, in this case November 2008. Marcia and Greg make driving-test bet in segment one; Marcia imagines instructor in underwear in middle segments; Marcia and Greg's bet ends in a tie, family loves each other again." Err...those aren't Seinfeld characters, Matt! But, point taken--one of the candidates is, after all, sure to get hit with the Hawaiian Tiki Curse. (Our money's on Romney.)
3. The Election Cycle Begins a Headlong Descent into Aaron Spelling territory.
"You pack a rich and magical dream-landscape with a group of easily-recognizable psychological archetypes and spend a dozen episodes or so letting them smash into each other in bikinis and sports cars (if the show is set in California) or spurs and hoop-dresses (if it's a Western)." Please note: We have every hope that none of the announced candidates will actually appear in public wearing a bikini. Fingers crossed on the hoop dresses, though.
4. Next up: The "Sweet n'Blow" stage.
That's Taibbi's term for the period where the media will dedicate themselves to promoting a meme ("So and so's prickly"..."What's her name lacks warmth"), that they have either made up out of whole cloth or, perhaps more often than Taibbi realizes, that they have had spoon-fed to them by the opposition team.
5. Then, for a long, long while, everything's basically all Adam Nagourney's fault.
Sheesh. Like you needed to be told that!
6. Eventually, someone gets dubbed the "Adlai Stevenson."
Seriously. Work with Matt here, people!
7. Finally, we're back to Seinfeld.
Somebody wins the election. But nobody learns. And nobody hugs.
THE LOW POST: The Return of Evil Campaign Journalism [Rolling Stone]