Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Very Serious Nature of Political Reporting



This is what appeared on the front page of Yahoo! News this morning.

Hard hitting, isn't it?

I know a lot of people are excited about this election, convinced that it is well nigh inevitable that Barack Obama will win and win big, but all I see between now and November are a lot of forces pushing back against that idea. Not even malevolent forces, just silly, stupid, petty, trivial forces. Stories like this one will have pundits frothing on TV, doing straw polls among their families and friends to prove that all of the people they know have pets, so they MUST be going to vote for McCain. And if it's not this one, it'll be another.

Who's winning? Who's winning this month? Who won last week? Who won today? Who's winning RIGHT NOW? At this very second? And what does it all mean? What untapped segment, what subgroup of a subgroup of a subgroup, can be put on TV, can be quoted in a story and be turned into the crux on which everything hangs? "How will the left-handed soccer moms who have sons AND daughters, but ONLY cats, and whose birthdays are in the firs three months of the year vote this November? It's a question that has a lot of experts scratching their heads."

Actually, it's the kind of question that has a lot of people scratching their heads, but not for the reason you think.