Headline: The Political Media’s Blurred Reality
Sub-headline:How market pressures and professional hubris have undone campaign journalism
Mr. Shapiro manages to make American Politics as practiced in 2020, sing like a Pop Tune, at the bottom of the charts, of another Age. In his description of the role of the supine corporate press coverage, of the presidential politics of recent memory, the jejune manages to retain its ennui producing thrall. Now Mr. Shapiro manages to mildly scold his fellow practitioners:
The truth is that while the demand for political stories is nearly inexhaustible, the supply chain is often short of new information or insights. So the story of 2019, in particular, was a tale of hot takes and takedowns buttressed by evanescent evidence. Through it all, reporters and pundits alike blithely ignored the evidence that most Democratic voters (even in Iowa and New Hampshire) weren’t paying attention. Campaign coverage before the Iowa caucuses probably would have spread far fewer misconceptions if the political press corps had taken two-week breaks each time the news slowed down. But, of course, there was cable TV airtime to fill, relentless online deadlines to meet, and front-page real estate to grab.
But with a full cast of the corporate dullards that appear on television and the internet with numbing regularity: Mika & Joe its dull-witted Power Couple! He’s in Hollywood Reporter or Variety territory! Show Business is the ruling ethos of Corporate Media Empires! Recall the good old days of Henry Luce?
Now there is the politically canny mentions of ‘political scientists John Sides and Lynn Vavreck point out in The Gamble, their academic study of that year’s election…’ and Pete Hamby’s wrote in a 2013 paper for the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, and ‘In The Boys on the Bus, Timothy Crouse’s enduring portrait of the chain-smoking reporters covering the 1972 campaign, but how indicative of Mr. Shapiro’s selective memory that Joe McGinniss’ book ‘The Selling of the President 1968’ does not qualify!
Its not that Mr. Shapiro lacks a certain gift for gussying up the political actors of America’s Corporate Press, with some literary flourishes, garnishing that good scolding – I’m speculating that his novel is gathering dust in that bottom drawer? But the Corporate Press is just that, a servant to America’s political class and its Property Party, Gore Vidal’s trenchant characterization, with two wings the Republicans and the New Democrats. Mr. Shapiro’s ‘insights’ are of a loyal citizen of this ‘press brigade’ of that Property Party!