Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nah, It'll Never Work

Now here's a brilliant idea: a one hour per week news show which focuses on real issues in the presidential race. Steve Almond detailed his proposal in an opinion piece in today's Boston Globe:

...I'd like to issue a challenge to CNN or MSNBC or some other brave network to produce a weekly show that deals exclusively with a single pressing issue, and objectively analyzes each candidate's policies with respect to that issue.

Here's how such a show work. It would require dumping all pundits, pollsters, and campaign operatives in favor of non-partisan sources (scientists, economists, and the like) whose only allegiance is to policy and its effects on the electorate. No replays of misleading ads, or sound bytes.

Instead, a reasonably intelligent host would articulate what the candidates propose to do about, for instance, our energy policy. Rather than rely on political distortions, unbiased experts would tell us the realistic dividends and costs of off-shore drilling (John McCain's magic cure) or dipping into our Strategic Oil Reserve (Barack Obama's silver bullet). They would also provide details on how much the candidates plan to spend on alternative sources of energy, where they stand on fuel efficiency standards, and subsidies for oil companies.After all, beyond all the rhetoric and cheap stunts - tire gauges, anyone? - the candidates do have distinct energy plans. Wouldn't it be nice to learn what they are? Or to learn what the candidates propose to do about our occupation of Iraq, our tax policy, our health care system, or economic woes?

If star power is an issue, why not invite the candidates to present their own plans and give the host ... a mute button, should they lapse into attacks? I can already hear the network suits out there howling about how such a show would be too fact-heavy, too "boring" for our simpleton electorate. But as anyone who's had to watch CNN in an airport for more than 30 minutes can tell you, political coverage as it now exists is crushingly boring, an echo chamber of smears and counter-smears.

With all the hours the networks have to fill, this would seem to be a natural, except for one thing: the corporate networks aren't really interested in educating the public. They like us just the way we are. It works out better for them that way. And NPR? Oh, please. They drank the kool-aid years ago.

It's a good idea, though, Mr. Almond. It's nice to see that there's at least one other person in the country who believes in the role of the press.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it something when we've reached the point where it's necessary to challenge the press JUST TO COVER THE ISSUES?! Arrrghhhh.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Almond proposal wouldn't be as funny as it is, it is worth tearing your hair out.

Almond basically wants the media to its job. Clearly, the media today is a political entity that is part of the process and not a prudent outside observer. There is no solution to this problem.

Furthermore, even scientists and "unbiased" analysts are part of the political process and there is no chance the freedom-off-pundits will result in better results. Although, on this point the experiment may worth trying.

The shut up button suggested is quite funny; there are barely 5 people in the country that have the guts to stop a presidential candidates. The latter have the biggest vanity factors in existence and their supporters are even stupider then they are.

Mr. Almond's offering is part of the problem; it's not the solution.

2:11 AM  

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