One of the more baffling aspects of “political journalism” in the United States is the mind-numbing obsession which most of the political press has with “horse race” analysis.
…the major newsweeklies — or view any of the cable news shows [are] filled with the analysts who think they are the super-sophisticated insider political types and virtually all they ever do, literally, is prattle on in the most speculative and gossipy manner about which presidential candidates are winning and losing.
Aside from all the other obvious critiques made of this practice, the resulting chatter is unbelievably boring. I say it is “baffling” because it is hard to understand why someone would want to become a political journalist and then spend most of their time engaged in this sort of petty, substance-free chatter about which campaign has inched ahead and which one has fallen behind every day. It’s all transparently baseless and meaningless.
Allow me to explain:
Political journalists don’t like governance. It bores them.
It’s that simple. Let me know if you need any more help.
So, you agree with Krugman. So do I.
Because it would be real work to develop challenging interviews and substantive research about policies, issues and candidates.
As it is, they can collect their checks for behaving like empty-headed, gossipy debutantes.
I believe it largely is in line with the dumbing-down of virtually everything in our popular and political culture (and science is just TOO HARD!): policy is considered BORING, and probably way too egg-heady (certainly since Adlai Stevenson) for the typical voter. Policy wonks are today’s grownup highschool nerds, and the typical candidate Goodhair (save Edwards, who is a decent policy wonk) is elected through telegenic image and beery amiability. The millions of us concerned with policy aren’t a large enough constituency, and have alternative sources of information unavailable to Joe Sixpack, like the internet (sigh).
They really do think that what they say matters.
I wonder if this has anything to do with High School politics?
I remember the days of the “Class President”. While the school elections may have been a big deal and got people interested, it was all really just a popularity contest. It couldn’t be about policy because there is really no policy to implement. The roles I remember were essentially the school social committee; choose the theme of the prom, and a couple of the school sponsored dances, and maybe hold a fundraising or two for an event or charity.
I think those who had a passion for real politics got into politics r outright punditry, while the rest fell back on the popularity contest. Who has the better hair, are the freaks and geeks in this year?
Good example of soeone trapped in the High School President mentality: Tim Russert