Thursday, November 18, 2004

Here’s another one

Howard Dean yesterday railing against the media for the way it absolutely refuses to engage in any meaningful scrutiny of the Republicans. Sure, Howard, the media are awful. Are they biased by the fear of getting yelled at by an intensely angry Republican flack? Sure. Are they under-talented, under-educated and under-trying? Of course. But here’s the real point of Media Bias: the corporatization of the media has led to a media solely dedicated to selling soap. Our 11:00 o’clock local news carries story after story about fake threats ("Are your children safe from poisoned food? Film after the game."), and about celebrities ("Jude Law Named Sexiest Man Alive"). They do this not because they love Karl Rove, but because in their experience it sells soap. They get more viewers paying better attention when they keep us up to date with the latest on Scott Peterson or Martha Stewart than when they explain how John Kerry’s healthcare proposals will allow virtually every child to receive affordable quality healthcare.
It’s not the media that’s the problem, it’s the voters, stupid. We need to re-discover ways to interest viewers/voters in our stories. For going-on-four decades, the now-geriatrics at 60 Minutes have been more or less doing the job. Their show is commercially successful. It sells soap. Lots of it. And they do it with the breathless expose, the stinging rebuke, the final reveal of conclusively damning evidence. They sell the outrage, so people buy it.
If the Democrats were to make a Big Stink about the House’s changing of the rules in order to permit its leaders to remain in their posts even after they’re indicted, highlighting the utter hypocrisy of their reversing their moral position for no reason other than their unwillingness to condemn one of their own for his moral shortcomings, I think it would work. Dems should spread out on all the talk shows and other media outlets and talk about nothing else for two weeks. Get invited on under false pretenses if need be , but no matter what the question, the answer is the moral bankruptcy of the Republican House.

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