|Graphic from The Monkey Cage shows declining trust in media.|
This election season, it's not so much a mis-characterization of candidates--I think they've been pretty well nailed down by most--but the fact that nobody in the country has a poll that is believeable. They're all over the board with these things. On the same day, we see that Obama has virtually locked up the Electoral College (Huff Post), but the candidates are in a dead heat (CBS News). The important contested states (and Virginia is one of them) give a 5 to 10 point lead to one, then the other.
Republican Party insiders are throwing in the towel in one report and the Democrats are panicking in the next. What the hell's going on? Somebody has to know something. Has corporate influence upon media so corrupted the system that simple reports can't be affected? It's frustrating and exasperating--like watching Tennessee play Florida in football, if you get my drift.
We won't even talk about local reporting of statewide and congressional races because it's almost non-existent. Why a local daily paper or a medium-market television station can't have seasoned, excellent, insider political reporters who tell us important things about our candidates (like who their opponents are, for example--quick, who's running against Bob Goodlatte and Morgan Griffith?) is beyond my comprehension. They have full-time reporters doing cute animal stories, but most of us are concerned about issues larger than that.
John Sides at The Monkey Cage has this explanation (partially):
"Party polarization has raised the stakes in elections. And polarization combined with the growth of partisan media options has created an incentive for party leaders and activists to discredit the mainstream media among their supporters. Party leaders convince their partisans in the mass public to resist informative messages from the mainstream media and ideologically hostile outlets, and instead rely more on ideologically friendly new outlets.
"In doing this, they can help to inoculate their supporters against voting for the other side. Polarization created the incentive for political media criticism, but the changing media industry created the opportunity for it to be effective because there were so many nonmainstream media outlets providing alternative messages.
"Republicans were the earliest to adopt this strategy, and are still by far its most intense practitioners. But Democrats have also pursued this strategy to a lesser degree."
Where the hell is the news media? What has happened to it? Can it possibly be revived? And people in my profession wonder why the hell their companies are dying. Sheesh.