"Fundamental Weighting" and Indexing
links for 2008-05-19

Ezra Klein Calls for the Total and Immediate Removal of America's Mainstream Political News Media

Makes sense to me:

Ezra Klein: A campaign without the 'gotchas': Gore was seen, in 2000, as a condescending, exaggeration-prone prig. But in the ensuing years, he stepped out of campaign journalism. He began sending his speeches out directly over MoveOn.org's e-mail list, made a movie that asked people to sit down and listen to him for the better part of two hours, and did his rounds on interview shows on which he could have fairly lengthy conversations with hosts.

The result? A massive rehabilitation of his reputation, including in the eyes of the very political pundits who once spurned him.... Ask those pundits about the new Gore, of course, and they will sigh and search the heavens and moan that, oh, if he had only been this way when he was in politics, how different it all could have been. But he was.... He was a substantive global-warming obsessive with a penchant for long disquisitions on meaty topics.... [H]is pipeline to the public was a gaffe-hungry media looking for ways to humiliate him, that didn't turn out so well. When he was able to speak directly to the public, those traits were considerably more attractive....

The problems for the media are structural.... [T]he shows are really run as a type of soap opera. Campaigns become ongoing stories with a cast of characters and a history that can be referred back to. That requires the daily construction of a story line. Characters need definition and catchphrases and frailties... clips that can be easily and endlessly replayed to remind viewers of what they're watching and what happened in past episodes... the media hunger for out-of-character gaffes and missteps -- those moments are crucial to the business model.

But politicians increasingly have alternatives.... And now the campaigns of Obama and McCain are broaching the idea of Lincoln-Douglas-style debates -- a series of unmoderated debates that would leverage the public interest in the campaign to force the media to cover debates without imposing their own narrative or needs on the structure. It's campaigning as politicians, rather than the media, would have it. Weird as it sounds, that might be better for the process. And, for the candidates, it certainly sounds like more fun.

Not just the TV shows: the campaign coverage of the newspapers and magazines as well.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?