Friday, October 15, 2004
Circular Dialogue on the Campaign Trail
In fact, if you look at it closely, the campaign is mainly a conversation with itself. And if you look at the campaign as it exists in the media, it is entirely a conversation with itself. Virtually everyone who is allowed to tell us what to think of the candidates, their positions and the state of our politics in general is an insider of some kind. In this movie, only the guild members - candidates, spokespeople, talking heads, pundits and pollsters - get the speaking lines. The rest of the country is represented by crowd shots and poll numbers.
In order to understand why this is, you have to grasp an essential truth about our political journalism. What our political reporters do for a living is sell the campaign to the population, not speak for the people to the campaign. This is most vividly demonstrated in who actually gets to talk in campaign coverage.