January 22, 2004
Criticism of Campaign Press
Cole Campbell, a former editor of the St. Louis Dispatch, has written an interesting article discussing the role of political journalists in the current campaigns. Campbell uses a column by Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz to make his point, that is, that the campaign coverage often gets it wrong:
The press had focused on Dean’s money and volunteers and Gephardt’s union backing, but paid no attention to factors that led to Kerry “roughly doubling Dean’s vote total,” Kurtz notes. “To put it mildly, you didn’t read it here first.”To read the entire article, go here.
These characterizations beg several questions. Who enthroned Dean and named him the front-runner? By what criteria can journalists claim he has been dealt a serious blow or dethroned? Who vaunted his grass-roots movement, and who characterized his position as “near-invincible”? (By what criteria of invincibility?) Who decides that New Hampshire is a critical test for Dean, but not others? Who will decide whether Dean passes it? Who pitted Dean’s organizational prowess against Kerry’s and Edward’s “message and momentum”? Who says – and exactly what does it mean to say things this way – that voters “began” to take a “more serious look” at “all the candidates” in the last two weeks? (What had they been doing in earlier weeks? Looking facetiously, or at only some candidates, or not at all?) And who has the prerogative to describe the candidacy of a former governor as an insurgency and the candidacy of a first-term senator, taking on the same political establishment, as conventional politics?
We know the answer: The campaign press corps. But the campaign press corps’ stories citing all these factors, causes, dynamics and developments never mentions the centrality of the campaign press corps in picking what counts and doesn’t count in explaining--or explaining away--political reality. The campaign press corps pretends it doesn’t exist, except to observe and explain. It pretends it is a political innocent.
Posted by Caroline Bruce on January 22, 2004 at 06:47 AM | Permalink
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This article is exactly on the point.
It points out something very dangerous, and very sad about our electoral process. WHO gave the power to the media and pundits to say who survives and who does not, who is electable, and who is not electable? I dare say it is the same who control Washington, yes Corporations who want nothing more than to control the way the country is run. In the past 2 days, I have sent more emails to would-be journalists, and tv anchors about what a disgrace they are to their professions. I have been worried about this since the 2000 election (as if worrying about voting machine tampering isn't enough). The media crucified Al Gore on every thing he did, and now they are picking up where they left off by going after Howard Dean. I asked Ms. Dowd of the NYT where this vendetta is coming from, but I suspect there will be no answer, because that would take intelligence, and we all know that in journalism today, there is no intelligent being.
As Americans, we have to rise up, and go after this because it threatens our democracy in ways we could never have imagined.
Posted by: Barbara Suma at January 22, 2004 07:07 AM