01/10/2008 11:32 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Desperation Coverage

Just about all the journalists who cover the campaigns share one primal characteristic: Fear.

We are scared to death...afraid we're going to miss something, whatever story all the rest of the frightened rabbits are calling news. We end up with a coerced collective consciousness that determines what becomes the story of the day.

If it decides that Hillary's near-tears matter, then they do. Everyone scampers away to breathlessly report her "moment".

Then the analysts tell us what it all means (an analyst, by definition, must find meaning, whether it exists or not. Otherwise he or she wouldn't be an analyst).

The other candidates are confronted by a demand to react and they do so at their peril (just ask John Edwards).

At the end of the evening, the reporter can finally go to sleep, deeply relieved that he or she hasn't been exposed for being outside the loop.

As for the analysts, they operate like movie critics. They each want their thumbs up or down to fit in with the rest so they don't stick out like sore finger.. God forbid that their perspective is different from all the other self-appointed experts.

Meanwhile, back on the candidates' buses, reporters suffer from another paralysis. It's the fear of rejection...that they won't be part of their group. Yes there are good reasons to assign one person to stick with a campaign. The familiarity results in superior knowledge and cultivation of sources.

However, all of those reporters end up hermetically sealed off. Their entire world becomes the entourage. Few enjoy being an outcast, so most work very hard at being accepted, not just by their colleagues, but even by the staff people herding them around. If it sounds like peer pressure, it is. It's just like high school, which makes sense since so many of the reporters are just a few years removed from high school. But even the moire experienced hands get caught up in the desperate need to be popular. You're not part of the gang if you go against the grain. No grain no gain. (Sorry) There's a tremendous pressure to play along and not inconvenience everyone else.

That's a major part of the reason that so many of the individual narratives are not individual at all. In truth, they are the group-think we believe is necessary to look like we're in the know.

Every once in awhile, we're exposed as know-nothings. The latest demonstration is our missing the Hillary vote boat in New Hampshire because we all decided we could only be safe riding the trendy Obama wave.

Of course we're reacting now, all of us. Every one of us is doing the "What Went Wrong" story. That includes me, of course. You were expecting independent thinking? You gotta be kidding.