Monday, October 27, 2014

When a media pundit nails it!

Since I've focused a lot on how the media fails these days, I think its also important to point out when they get it right. Recently Justin Sink did just that with an article titled: The shiny object election.
The short-attention span generation has birthed the shiny-object election.

The theme of the 2014 midterms — to whatever extent one is discernable — has been an explosion of one crisis after another, each of which demands an enormous amount of media attention before fading for the next one.
The result is that - with an assist from the media - Republicans have managed to fear-monger every challenge that's come along...resulting in a mindset amongst the public that amounts to "this country is going to hell in a hand basket." Sink also correctly articulates the Obama administration's response to this shiny object syndrome:
“We should be focused on the problems because we have a government and leadership in this country that’s focused on solving them,” press secretary Josh Earnest said.

But Earnest did note that previous crises — like the flood of unaccompanied minors across the southern border that dominated attention earlier this summer — were examples of where the administration had worked hard to solve a problem, only to see attention divert elsewhere.

“The president and his administration at the direction of the president comes in and, through a lot of hard work, puts in place a solution. But by the time that solution is put in place, everybody has sort of moved on to something else,” Earnest said.
As we've seen recently, by the time this administration had solved the problems with,  the freak-out about unaccompanied minors crossing the borders began. And before anyone noticed how that problem had been solved, we were on to ISIS!!!! But by the time President Obama had convinced Iraq to form a more inclusive government that cut off support for ISIS in that country and rallied our friends as well as foes to fight them, the great freak-out about Ebola had begun.

You simply have to think about how many stories in the media you've read/heard about how this administration solved those problems (almost none) to realize how shiny object syndrome works. All the attention is focused on the "crisis" and none on the solution.

Of course the Republicans love this shiny object syndrome because it puts all the focus on President Obama and none on their embrace of post-policy politics. But Sink is right...the Democrats have mostly reacted to the shiny object rather than being pro-active in talking about policy and solutions.
Strategists and experts say the result has been bad news for Democrats, who have had a tougher time underscoring their preferred campaign messages on their party’s support for women and the middle class.

Instead, each shiny object captivating a media that craves the hottest story has helped Republicans making the elections for the House and Senate all about President Obama...

Vulnerable Democrats are put in the unenviable position of either backing the president or lobbing criticism at their party’s leader.
I certainly understand that the Republicans are going to play whatever hand they have - that is to be expected. The real fault here lies in the media's obsession with ratings and link bait. Crisis fear-mongering apparently sells. Solutions don't.


  1. Hey'll definitely love this newest take from Kevin Drum:

    1. Thanks!!! I'm so glad to see more pundits making this point. Although I have one quibble w/ Drum. He seems to suggest a conflation between "furious" and "engaged." That's part of the problem right there.