Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Critique of a Critique of the meta-Critique: Why No News is The News

I don't always agree with Krugman, but his criticism of the meta-analysis is right on. He says, in part:
"One of my pet peeves about political reporting is the fact that some of my journalistic colleagues seem to want to be in another business – namely, theater criticism. Instead of telling us what candidates are actually saying – and whether it’s true or false, sensible or silly – they tell us how it went over, and how they think it affects the horse race. During the 2004 campaign I went through two months’ worth of TV news from the major broadcast and cable networks to see what voters had been told about the Bush and Kerry health care plans; what I found, and wrote about, were several stories on how the plans were playing, but not one story about what was actually in the plans.

There are two big problems with this kind of reporting. The important problem is that it fails to inform the public about what matters. In 2004, very few people had any idea about the very real differences between the candidates on domestic policy."

But how much of it has to do with the fact the there is essentially a consensus between the two major parties? They both strive to be business-friendly (supporting things like NAFTA and the WTO over the working and middle class), hawkish on foreign policy (no debate about bombing a country for what non-state actors have done), and neck-and-neck on domestic issues (with the Democrats making a big celebration out of the most minor deviations, like Don't Ask, Don't Tell, while continuing the mass incarceration craze). The only two issue they seem to disagree on is guns, and there by very little despite what the NRA keeps promoting, and abortion, where they seem to have a gentleman's agreement that one party has to be the choice party and the other party is the anti-choice party. As a frustrated Michael Moore pointed out, in the second Gore-Bush debate. for over thirty issues, the two candidates simply agreed.

There is a problem with the corporate media's obsession with politician personality and surface performance over their substantial policy proposals (and, god forbid, alternatives to the proposals), but when, for the last several years, the Republicans argue for more war and the democrats counter (!) that the war needs to be fought better, doesn't responding with theater criticism make sense?

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