Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Almighty Narrative

While we're waiting for the New Hampshire results to come in, here's something to chew on: Glenn Greenwald points out the Edwards surge that nobody is talking about. (Kudos to Avedon at Eschaton.)

Edwards -- who, just one week ago, was 10 points behind Obama nationally among Democrats -- is now only two points behind him. Less than a month ago, he trailed Clinton by 29 points. Now it's 13 points. He is, by far, at his high point of support nationwide. Apparently, the more exposure Democratic voters get to Edwards and his campaign positions -- and that exposure has been at its high point during his surge -- the more they like him. By contrast, Obama is more or less at the same level of support nationally, even having decreased some since his Iowa win (for most of mid-Decemeber, he was at 27-28 points).

Yet to listen to media reports, Edwards doesn't even exist. His campaign is dead. He has no chance. They hate Edwards, hate his message, and thus rendered him invisible long ago, only now to declare him dead -- after he came in second place in the first caucus of the campaign.

There are certainly horse-race counterarguments to all of this. This is only one poll. Obama is ahead in New Hampshire, where his support has increased, etc. etc.

But I'm not focusing on the accuracy of horse-race predictions here, but instead, on the fact that the traveling press corps endlessly imposes its own narrative on the election, thereby completely excluding from all coverage plainly credible candidates they dislike (such as Edwards) while breathlessly touting the prospects of the candidates of whom they are enamored. Their predictions (i.e., preferences and love affairs) so plainly drive their press coverage -- the candidates they love are lauded as likely winners while the ones they hate are ignored or depicted as collapsing -- which in turn influences the election in the direction they want, making their predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies.

It's just all a completely inappropriate role for political reporters to play, yet it composes virtually the entirety of their election coverage.
That's just an excerpt; go read the whole thing.

While I'm posting this largely because I support Edwards, everyone should be incensed that the media is so caught up in the narrative of who they want to see win that they neglect to report on what's actually going on. I'd suggest contacting various media outlets about this, but as they're so wrapped up in saying what they want to say, the facts be damned, I'm not sure they'd listen.


Snibbly said...

While it is true that the media should not be interfering so directly with the election, it is also true that our future president must have the ability to capture the media's attention, hold it, and direct it. The problem here lies on both sides - the side of the media for ignoring a major candidate, and on the side of the Edwards campaign for not commandeering the media's attention. I think it would not be hard for him to leech support away from Hillary - his ideas are like hers but better. It seems he has no chance to steal Obama supports, since they are largely drawn to his charisma, and that's what Edwards is lacking.

rknil said...

You can e-mail questions to AP's glorified stenographers at newsquestions@ap.org. Flood their inbox with your concerns, and maybe they'll listen. They certainly don't listen to their co-op members, which is why AP is going to go the way of the buffalo before much longer.