Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)
The Mainstream Media's Trivial Pursuit of Campaign 2012
Eric Alterman | October 23, 2012Pity the poor American campaign journalist. The 2012 election, says Politico’s Dylan Byers, quoting The New York Times Magazine’s Mark Leibovich, has been characterized by a “devastating ‘joylessness.’” “Until the candidates restore joy, it’s impossible for us to be joyful,” adds NBC News senior White House correspondent Chuck Todd. “If these candidates were comfortable, the campaign might be joyful to cover.”
article/170790/mainstream- medias-trivial-pursuit- campaign-2012
Heart-rending as these laments may be, they strike one as decidedly misplaced with regard to the actual victims of this campaign. After all, the reporters are being paid pretty well for their self-pity parties, to say nothing of the meals, mini-bar drinks and soft-core porn they can usually expense to their employers. For the consumers of American journalism, a k a “voters,” however, this campaign has not merely been joyless; it’s been all but substanceless—when it hasn’t been deliberately deceptive. For despite the participation of tens of thousands of journalists spending tens of millions of dollars using a dizzying array of communications technology devoted to covering the campaign, the system ultimately fails to justify itself in its most essential purpose: to ensure accountability for citizens and their leaders and to offer the kind of information necessary to help voters make an educated choice for the future of their country.