Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why the Media Likes Personality: Most Reporters Don't Know Policy

There is an amazing post over at Cleveland.com in which PD reporter Mark Naymik takes some shots at how Clinton came across during her endorsement interview. Apparently she acted as if she knew more than the PD writers and she didn't ask them for their endorsement. Now, this caught our attention because right now in our house people are reading The Big Con by Jonathon Chait. It is a very fascinating book and deals with how believers in supply-side economics managed to convince the media and the public that this whacked-out economic theory was viable.

One of the most important reasons he cites is that most reporters don't know issues and don't want to learn issues. Therefore, according to Chait, they "scorn campaigns rooted in issues and lacking a personal narrative." Which leads us to the blog entry by Naymik. Nowhere in his entry does Naymik discuss any point of policy which was important to the PD in giving its endorsement to Obama. The tone of the entry can be found from this closing paragraphs:

Clinton is a fine candidate.

But she isn't paying attention to one of the messages voters sent Democrat John Kerry in 2004: Nobody likes a smarty-pants.

Basically he is telling candidates for public office that the PD doesn't really care what you know, they care how you get along with them. Interestingly, in the same blog, he points out that Senator John McCain was actually talking to someone else while do his telephone interview with the PD. Now, that strikes us as more than a little rude, but apparently being rude is more acceptable to the PD than knowing too much about the issues or not asking the editorial board for its endorsement. Naymik takes care to mention that both Obama and McCain did just that. Oh, and he also liked the fact that John McCain made a bad joke about "waterboarding."

The other thing that he doesn't point out is that relatively few Americans met John Kerry during his campaign for the presidency. So where did this belief that he was a "smarty-pants" come from? Why, the media, of course, only Naymik either doesn't realize it or doesn't want to acknowledge it.

Look, you can complain all you want about the fact that most media personnel are not really all that interested in issues, or you can accept it and try to go with the candidate who has the better personality. We realize it is aggravating, but you are probably not going to change the culure of the media during one campaign cycle.

Thanks to Jill Miller Zimon of Writes Like She Talks for bringing this to everyone's attention.

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