Glenn Greenwald posts “The most revealing three-minute You Tube clip ever,” in which Chris Matthews and some other beltway blatherers spend nearly four minutes discussing the U.S. Attorney scandal without saying shit about it. Instead of discussing the substance of the scandal, Matthews et al. giggle about Democrats who want to smack Karl Rove.
On a related note, Bob Herbert discusses media coverage of Elizabeth Edwards’s illness:
Since presidential campaigns are covered like sporting events, the speculation immediately centered on whether Mrs. Edwardsâ€™s illness would harm her husbandâ€™s fund-raising ability, or cause him to go up or down in the polls, or in some other way hamper or enhance his ability to compete.
The pack is obsessed with the horse race, which is regrettable. It would be far more constructive and interesting if this heightened attention to Mr. Edwardsâ€™s campaign resulted in the media and the public taking a closer look at the issues he has been pushing, not just in the campaign but ever since his unsuccessful run for vice president in 2004.
If that were to happen it could be part of the silver lining that Elizabeth Edwards hopes will emerge from her familyâ€™s latest devastating crisis.
The 2008 presidential campaign has gotten an absurdly early start and has drawn staggering amounts of media coverage. The result has largely been the triumph of the trivial: Who said what nasty thing about whom? Who flipped? Who flopped?
Substance is considered boring, and thus less newsworthy.
If these same clowns had covered the election of 1860, voters would have been subjected to endless chatter about Lincoln’s a shop-a-holic wife, Mary Lincoln, whose family were slaveowners and secessionists. Her every cough would be tagged a proof she was a liability to the campaign. Lincoln himself would be portrayed as a peacenik who lost a House seat in 1848 because he spoke out against the Mexican War. Surely the pundits would decide he was just another James Buchanan, well meaning but soft. I can see Tucker Carlson asking viewers if Lincoln wasn’t a flip-flopper on slavery, because he’d spoken against it in some speeches but had promised to make no attempt to abolish slavery in slave states in other speeches. Etc., etc.
As Herbert says in his column, Edwards is running on a number of issues, such as universal health care. I’ve got issues with Edwards’s proposal on health care, but I think it’s more important for voters to understand Edwards’s views on health care than to watch Katie Couric grill John Edwards on why he is still campaigning when his wife has cancer.
As it was, voters in 1860 probably knew next to nothing about Mary Lincoln. I remember reading somewhere that many Americans had no idea what Lincoln looked like until after he was in the White House — in Mr. Lincoln’s case, that was just as well. Sure there was some imagery hype — “Abe the Rail Splitter” stuff — but mostly what voters knew about Lincoln in 1860 was where he stood on issues. That’s because most of what they knew about Lincoln they learned from reading his speeches, published in thousands of independently owned newspapers all over the country. He was able to speak to voters more directly than today’s candidates, who can only reach voters through the mediation of the likes of Chris Matthews, Tucker Carlson, Katie Couric, and worse — Faux Noise.