The Media’s Role In Campaigns

Ken AshfordElection 2008, Right Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

This exchange last night between Tom Brokaw and Chris Matthews is revealing:

BROKAW: You know what I think we’re going to have to do?

MATTHEWS: Yes sir?

BROKAW: Wait for the voters to make their judgment.

MATTHEWS: Well what do we do then in the days before the ballot? We must stay home, I guess.

BROKAW: No, no we don’t stay home. There are reasons to analyze what they’re saying. We know from how the people voted today, what moved them to vote. You can take a look at that. There are a lot of issues that have not been fully explored during all this.

But we don’t have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed. And trying to stampede in effect the process.

Look, I’m not just picking on us, it’s part of the culture in which we live these days. I think that the people out there are going to begin to make judgments about us if we don’t begin to temper that temptation to constantly try to get ahead of what the voters are deciding, in many cases, as we learned in New Hampshire when they went into the polling booth today or in the last three days. They were making decisions very late.

Tom, of course, is right.  The role of the media should be to examine the candidates, their stances on the issues, and the like.

Tellingly, this seems lost on Matthews, who thinks it’s about the horserace.  Who thinks the selection of the next leader of the free world is a sideshow akin to "The Amazing Race" and "Survivor".  Hey, if we can’t opine on who gets kicked off the island, Chris thinks, what purpose do we serve?

Well, for "journalists" like Chris Matthews, who thinks politics is about petty personality conflicts, meaningless trivia and gossip, perhaps they have no purpose.  (Shoot, that’s what blogs are for!)

As for me, I say more Cronkite journalism, less Drudge.  Know what I mean?

UPDATE:  Matthews shows his true colors again this morning:

Last night, Matthews said: "I give her a lot of personal credit; I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again."

But by this morning Matthews had already forgotten his newfound respect for her. He said: "The reason she’s a U.S. Senator, the reason she’s a candidate for President, the reason she may be a front-runner, is her husband messed around. That’s how she got to be Senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t win it on the merits…"

Put aside for a sec just how loathsome this statement is on its own terms. The larger point here is that a mere half-day after acknowledging that he’d gotten it wrong and that she deserved a lot of "personal credit" for winning over voters, Matthews was already imposing his own narrative on her entire political career, the current race included, saying that her past and current success have nothing to do with "the merits."

Surely the voters don’t see Hillary this way. But already Matthews is back to speaking for the voters again, oversimplifying complex voter sentiment in the most crude and reductive fashion he can muster.

RELATED:  Paul Bagala has an amusing post about Fox News, and how they reported yesterday that he was joining the Clinton campaign.  It wasn’t true, and when he informed Fox of this, he was told that it would be "taken under advisement".  Nevertheless, the story continued to be reported throughout the day.  Begala has the emails.