Political Pundits And Technology

Sunday’s presidential debate highlighted both the hammer lock our political press corps has on policy, but also something that is slowly, too slowly, weakening it. The bad news is best summarized by Erik Wemple (boldface mine):

Via transcript search, that’s precisely the third mention of “climate change” in this general election debate season; Clinton brought up the topic briefly in the first debate, when she alleged that Trump sees climate change as a Chinese hoax, and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine made a glancing mention last week in his face-off against Mike Pence.

So this was a cruel tease. It would be one thing if the primary debates had thoroughly tested the candidates on this pressing matter. They didn’t, as this blog noted back in February. Though a student one year ago at a CNN Democratic primary debate posed a good climate change question, other iterations were weak-kneed and failed to provoke a deep discussion of a problem that affects water, land, air, animals, humans — everything. As my colleague Greg Sargent noted a while back, here’s one policy area where the two candidates have contrasting views: Trump, “hoax”; Clinton, “defining challenge of our time.” Accordingly, a straight up question on the matter might just come alive around the podiums.

Here’s a case of the most critical sort of media bias — bias against a complex and important issue that involves science, hard-to-check facts and every living organism.

It’s also worth noting that the candidates differ on the legality of a medical procedure that over 1 million women use annually (that would be abortion), yet, it too has gone missing.

That said, improvements in technology have made it harder for pundits to force their opinions on their fellow citizens (boldface mine):

I’ve been through this movie before, after many previous debates since 2000, but here we go again: the cable TV pundit class (regular hosts and panelists) overpraising the GOP candidate’s performance, only to be humbled minutes later by scientific polls showing the Democrat won easily

I flipped continually between CNN and MSNBC and it was astounding how little attention was paid, for many minutes, to Trump’s promise to prosecute and jail Hillary (in a Nixon-like abuse of power) as they continued to give him high marks in the debate. I was watching what seemed to be turning points at both places when Van Jones and James Carville finally went ballistic on this. Almost in shame, some of the others starting talking about this. Or perhaps they had checked their Twitter feeds and saw what so many others were saying about this…

Yet: a wash! a draw! And then as the first poll result came in–a landslide for Hillary via CNN–they began to temper that. But only then. Then the YouGov poll also gave it to HRC.

The one-two punch combo of rapid polling and social media, to a certain extent, is really weakening the ability of the pundit class, with all of their bizarre fetishes, to ‘decide’ these sorts of things.

That is a good thing.

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