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June 2, 2008
Economy Tanks, So When Will Media Connect It To the Campaign?
is your silver lining regarding the economy. It will prompt the media as
we know it – a formless, shapeless blob that moves to the drift of the
latest pseudo-scandal – to change or become further irrelevant.
will not be a good year for frivolities couched as issues. Indications
are that things are apt to be at their worst right around the time
Americans head to the polls to cast ballots.
will have seen the first summer tourism season with $5 a gallon
gasoline, and it will be shortly after Americans are told that those who
heat during the winter with natural gas will again see heating bills
shoot up. Industry insiders suggest that demand for natural gas could
come very close to exactly everything that is available.
Energy costs prompted Dow Chemical to announce a 20 percent
across-the-board hike in its product prices. This is likely to hit
consumers in a number of ways, from increasing the cost of food to the
cost of plastic wrap people use to make that food last a little longer.
it wasn’t energy, it was our unraveling finance sectors. While most
analysts expect the housing crisis to actually peak right around
November, this week came word that it wasn’t just mortgage lenders who
were offering sub-prime loans. Auto dealers, it turns out, were guilty
of the same practice, and at a time of tanked demand for gas guzzling
SUVs and full-size trucks comes news that used car lots across the
country are close to bursting.
are they trying to sell? SUVs and full-sized trucks repossessed from
people who used home equity loans (homes since seized by banks) to buy
more car than they could afford. Shrinkage in credit available for
people to buy homes has now extended to credit available to buy cars.
in particular is likely to lead to another wave of unemployment in the
auto industry. Workers returning from a three-month strike that affected
plants in three states immediately faced the prospect that about 2,000
would perhaps see a pink slip with their first paycheck since returning
to work, and the Big Three themselves announced further slashes in work
hard to see where all of this bad economic news, coming in about the
space of a week, isn’t going to translate into declines in other
bring this back to the question of the news media, which this week drew
fire from veteran journalists for the way it’s covered the 2008
campaign. Former Newsweek correspondent Hal Bruno cited the rush
to rumor before confirmation, opinions issued from the anchor desk and
veteran political operatives given jobs as on-air analysts.
Related is a post by liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald who, after an
e-mail spat with John Harris of The Politico, said that a scoop
today is usually just a matter of who gets contacted by a source first.
That’s not journalism, by anyone’s definition, but providing a
Could it be that these kinds of criticisms have led polls that show the
media with popularity ratings nearly as low as of Congress and the
president? Does the sun rise in the east?
media has yet to connect the economy to the campaign. In fact, it seems
that the campaign coverage has been kept completely separate from
basically everything else, intersecting only from time to time, like two
wayward icebergs that bump into each other on cold North Atlantic
will be inseparable come November in the minds of voters. If the voting
electorate doesn’t feel as though the relationship has been fully
explored, what’s apt to set in is a deeper desire to engage in that
age-old relationship between kings and the bearers of bad news –
shooting the messenger. If that happens, the very real question becomes
whether a jury could be found anywhere that would convict.
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