I have been an obsessive and daily follower of the political media since I first listened to my father read the daily op-eds in the newspaper when he came home from work and sat in his easy chair in the living room waiting for my mother to announce that ‘dinner was served.’
My father read the political op-eds because he would then launch into a brief response to each statement by the newspaper’s editorial board, even though Daddy’s entire audience consisted of me. My older brother couldn’t be bothered to listen, my younger siblings were too young to know or care.
But I was 13 or 14, and from that time until now, which is somewhere around 65 years ago, I have been hooked into the way media reports political news.
Of course, even though the same two parties make the political news which made the political news 65 years ago, the political media has certainly changed. Now, the newspaper that my father used to read (The New York Times) has been subsumed by 24-7 television networks, endless websites, and social media, all of which manage to take a few daily facts or events and turn them into content which can either by read or watched virtually 24 hours a day.
What this means is that the demand for political news goes far beyond the number of events which actually occur in the political realm every day. So, what becomes political ‘news’ is whatever any political media outlet wants the news to be.
Here’s this morning’s headline from Scripps: ‘Trump Supporters Are Making Sure He Wins the New Hampshire Primary.’
What does this entire reportage consist of? Four, one-sentence statements by four people who showed up at a Trump rally in Atkinson, NH and told the reporter that they were going to vote for Trump.
Meanwhile, the last NH poll from January 17 has Trump at 47.1% and Haley at 33.9%. Right after Labir Day, Trump was at 48.2% and Haley was at 9.9%.
That’s how Trump’s political organization in New Hampshire will ‘make sure’ he wins?
Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. But the big story in New Hampshire is not that some people froze their asses off by waiting to get into a Trump event – you can find some frozen asses like that outside every Trump event.
The big news is that Trump has never received a majority of the primary voters in any New Hampshire poll, whereas Halley’s support has ramped up by nearly 4 times over the last 4 months, particularly since mid-November when DeSantis dropped under 10%.
Want another example of how political news has stopped being based on news? Try the latest coverage of GOP-doings in D.C., where the possibility of a government shutdown was averted (again) because the so-called resistance of the so-called ‘freedom caucus’ to a deal collapsed.
The political media has lavished endless attention over the last couple of years ‘reporting’ that the ‘freedom caucus’ remains the personification of Donald Trump on the Capitol Hill, but all of a sudden The New York Times has discovered that through a combination of illness and other personal issues affecting individual members, the GOP in general and the ‘freedom caucus’ in particular may lose their majority status even before the votes are counted in 2024.
Don’t get me wrong. With a sitting President whom everyone (except me) seems to hate, the blue team has its work cut out in trying to present themselves as a responsible alternative to the craziness of MAGA and the blowtorch campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump.
But God forbid, the political media would try to fashion an approach to the 2024 campaign by actually reporting the facts and the events of each primary race without resorting to shadowy statements made by nobody in particular as if what pops out of someone’s mouth on the spur of the moment constitutes real news.