Apparently the Obama White House has already begun planning for “the reelect.” It makes me wonder how much is too much in terms of spending on campaigns, the length of campaigns and just the depth/breadth of media coverage in our society. Every time we hear stories about state-wide campaigns breaking new spending records or the Presidential campaigns beginning earlier and earlier, or in the case of Sarah Palin never-ending at all, we also hear stories about when it will all be too much.
One thing I’ve been struggling with lately is when the media-driven, hyper sensitive, political and public culture will hit full saturation. We have high expectations. We want Tiger to tell us everything. We want to know. We can find someone who will be offended by almost any comment and then, we put them on cable news to talk about it. And the media tries to avoid responsibility by saying “we’re just reporting it” or “the ratings drive what we show – you want Tiger, Palin or Favre.” Often cable news and irresponsible journalists will ask a shocking, (often implying) hypothetical question only to negate them moments later. Example:
Anchor on MSNBC: “After these commercials, did Tiger Wood’s wife find out that he slept with Jessica Simpson?”
Returning from commercial: “No, Tiger didn’t sleep with Jessica Simpson.”
Ok, so why did you imply that he did? Are we just making up potential rumors at this point? And it happens in politics too.
The media will continually run stories about how media hype is a problem. Hmm. My question is whether or not we have a breaking point in our future. Much the way a suburban, over-worked Michael Douglas freaked out in the classic flick Falling Down, when will the media or better yet, our country collectively leave our car stalled on the highway sparking a misunderstood crime spree in downtown LA? If you haven’t seen the movie, please do. Also, this will make a little more sense then.
It’s kinda a self-fulling cycle, which I’m certain is what the media gets caught up in. I want to be well-read and current on the news and events of the day, so I log onto CNN.com, Politico.com, NYTimes.com or something similar and try to see “what everyone’s talking about.” Those agencies are trying to report stories which will get clicks (or viewers) and so they try to report “what everyone’s talking about” too. However, I’m only reading it because I think that’s what’s required to stay current. I understand this is not the best way to articulate my issue. So, I’ll try again.
I feel like we’re sacrificing substantive conversation and journalistic integrity in the interest of speed, gossip, and convenience. The media fuels the never-ending campaign so they can report on how detrimental and risky never-ending campaigns are. And if Obama wasn’t leaking stories about his 2012 campaign, the media would start asking questions and stories would pop up titled “What’s wrong with the Obama White House?” or “Is Obama considering one term?” Neither the cost of the never-ending campaign nor the media fueled gossip and self-motivated stories are particularly useful or necessary. But when there’s someone out there willing to blog about it, I guess I end up defeating my own point.
On the other hand, perhaps its not the media’s fault and I just wish that most Americans cared more. Maybe the media is right, and no one wants to know anything more substantial than what currently floods the 24/7 news, entertainment and politics channels. If that’s the case, it’s kinda depressing. But I’m willing to accept that. It doesn’t feel true, most people that I talk to do have an opinion and care what happens to our world, but they also assume no one else does. It’s like we’re not demanding more substantive attention to real issues and problem-solving because we don’t realize we have the power. Although if that were true, NPR, Tom Friedman and President Obama’s weekly addresses would have more viewers than American Idol or Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I’m not knocking those shows which are delivering a product to a willing audience. That’s not my issue. My issue seems to have transitioned to: do the American people care about what we know, how we know it and should we care who is paying attention?
We’ll save that for the next post (which will also allow me to develop it a little further).