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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Griper Blade: The Media's Daily Search for a 'Game Changer'

It's generally the case that presidential campaign coverage is dominated by brainless non-issues. This is of course largely the fault of the candidates, but the media share some of the blame. Because of networks' ratings-bias, there is no such thing as a minor controversy -- everything is of earth-shattering importance and any little slip could destroy a candidate's chances at the presidency.

As a result, the media portrayal the campaign news of the day and reality are two entirely different things. Minor issues and trivial embarrassments get blown entirely out of proportion -- not because the media misunderstands what constitutes "big news," but because they hope to inflate fumbles into flaming wrecks.

In a piece for FiveThirtyEight on spring polling and their ability to predict nothing, Micah Cohen brings up exactly this problem:

Already, partisans and pundits are criticizing individual polling samples and pollster methodologies. Entire “-gates” – Rosen-gate and dog-gate, for example – have erupted, been fought over and then forgotten in mere days, and each poll is scrutinized to see how the latest controversy has affected the race.

Oops, guess we're not supposed to notice that the big, all-consuming stories-of-the-day tend to go absolutely nowhere. Hilary Rosen disses Ann Romney and everyone's supposed to be outraged. It totally shifted the "War on Women" dynamic -- except it didn't. The needle on the public outcry meter didn't so much as quiver. Mitt's big counter-offensive in the War on Women was a bust and Republicans in general find themselves just as unpopular with women as they were before -- if not worse off...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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