Friday, August 17, 2012

Catch of the Day

To digby, who posts a clip of Mitt Romney giving an interview to a local TV station and makes the good point that "This is why politicians love local news. They can go straight to the people with their lies, without even the lame pushback you might get from the political press."

Exactly. The broadcaster in the clip here -- which, note, is a long one, stretching on for about seven minutes -- actually asks some pretty decent questions, ending up with asking whether there's any difference between the Romney plan and what George W. Bush did. However, there's basically no follow-up at all, and any professional politician can easily use any question, no matter how artfully framed, to pivot to whatever talking point he or she wants to use. The way to break that up is through the use of follow-up questions, which at the very least can make it clear that the pol is ducking something.

So instead, it's basically a seven-minute Romney infomercial given extra legitimacy because it's on the news. Of course, it's not just Romney; all presidential candidates, Barack Obama most certainly included, do this.

The truth is that very few local news correspondents, anchors, or producers have enough knowledge of national issues to really be able to challenge presidential candidates, even if they wanted to (and of course if they do, the candidates can always shop themselves to the other local channels). Even worse, perhaps, Pew tells us that most viewers trust their local news more than they trust any other news source.

I say "perhaps" because I'm not sure it's all that bad a thing that this happens. I think it's a basically a good thing that presidential candidates can get their views out there, after all. It just shouldn't be thought of as a substitute for taking questions from the national press, who know the issues...well, certainly better than the typical local broadcaster.

But good or bad, it's certainly an important part of the campaign, one that we typically pay infinitely less attention to than ads but that for all we know may be more important. And: nice catch!

13 comments:

  1. The twin biases of national journalism seem to me to be merely exaggerated at the local level: equivalence and laziness.

    I confess to being a little biased myself: Most modern-day journalists make my teeth itch.

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  2. Of course I agree they have been avoiding the national press far too much. But when they're campaigning so much in these states that they're courting so strenuously, it seems to me all presidential candidates have an obligation to sit down with the local broadcast press as much as possible (as they do with the newspaper ed boards) multiple times during election season. Who they choose and how they answer are wide open for criticism. But I don't think the facts of the interviews themselves should be.

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  3. Does anyone watch local news anymore? I stopped watching it 25 years ago.

    Ok, a better question: What is the percentage of the population that sees the average local news broadcast, even one that is heavily promoted? Aside from all the other channels that are available to the average TV viewer, there are also several local news broadcasts to choose from and many people refuse to watch any one but "theirs".

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  4. I thought it was interesting that he listed universal health care as one of his accomplishments in Massachusetts.

    @Anonymous,

    According to a Pew report based on a Dec 2010 survey, "Television remains the most widely used source for national and international news – 66% of Americans say it is their main source of news – but that is down from 74% three years ago and 82% as recently as 2002." And then: "When asked where on television they get most of their news, 36% name a cable network such as CNN, the Fox News Channel or MSNBC; 22% name ABC News, CBS News or NBC News; and 16% say they get most of their national and international news from local news programming."

    The second question was asked of people who listed TV as one of their top two news sources. The share responding local news remained very consistent over the aughts, even as broadcast and cable declined. Link here: http://www.people-press.org/2011/01/04/internet-gains-on-television-as-publics-main-news-source/

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  5. I am much happier for the candidates to take their positions directly to the electorate than to have them filtered through the bias and distortions of the lame stream media. What percentage of journalists vote Republican again?

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    Replies
    1. Clever! You replaced "main" with "lame"!

      Delete
    2. What percentage of journalists vote Republican again?

      How many journalists work for the Wall Street Journal?

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    3. Filtered?

      You'd rather have your lies raw, without context?

      Then why bother with the media at all, and not just go straight to the candidate's website?

      Delete
  6. Here's a question for you, Jonathan.

    If the GOP takes the Presidency this election, will this mean the extraordinary obstructionism tactic will go mainstream? Get into the general playbook for the foreseeable future? If the GOP doesn't take the Presidency, will it be abandoned for a brief period at least?

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  7. OK, lefties, since it appears you're whining that evil Romney is promulgating evil W's tax policies, riddle me this: Why did your hero Obama sign an extension of W's tax policies in December of 2010?

    I mean, if it was such evil policy, why would he EXTEND it, to the jot and tittle?

    Oh, Obama's just playing politics, and nobody in the left stream media is challenging him with that question, you say?

    That's what I thought.

    I'm amused with this "nice catch" shibboleth, too. An interesting part of this lefty site. Easy to deconstruct and jeer at, but informative as to the predilections here.

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  8. Anon@1:39pm - Obama extended W's tax cuts to keep those that applied to the middle class, not to mention to avoid an economic contraction. You may not know this, but Obama has wanted to keep the middle class portion of W's tax cuts, but let those affecting the very well paid (income) expire.

    Have you not been paying attention? Or can you only think in terms of 'good vs evil'?

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  9. Actually, it's you lefties who think exclusively in terms of "good vs. evil", which is why I caricatured them that way, and elicited your knee jerk response, apparently.

    So, your hero Obama signed the evil Bush tax cuts, however you attempt to dress it out. The evil could have been vetoed, if his words were anything more than shibboleths (like this "catch of the day" nonsense, apparently), but as it was just hot air, he signed those evil Bush tax cuts, and now they're the evil Obama tax cuts.

    Only difference is, you lefties are silent about it, and don't question him about it, even as hard lefty bloggers like this one here yammer on about local media going soft on non-Obama candidates.

    The hypocrisy is amusing, if predictable.

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