To say the current state of our news is not handled for the current presidential election is, in my opinion, putting it lightly. Journalism has always played a vital role in the electability of presidential candidates. Not to say that it has been the only deciding factor but, as illustrated by Thomas E Patterson, the press has filled the void left by political parties no longer having control over the nomination process.
But what does that mean for us today?
To put it simply, nothing good. We are living in a world where we have 12 democratic candidates qualified for the next debate, a president running for reelection essentially unopposed, all while said president is facing an impeachment inquiry. So what part is the news supposed to focus on? Its almost impossible for every single news outlet to give each candidate adequate coverage with limited resources and other events that they need to talk about as well.
What we’re seeing happen now is news outlets having their top contenders and using their election coverage to talk about that handful. Some are based on polls but those are also insanely unreliable because then its the question of which polls that news source is getting their information from. Or, you have the geniuses at Fox News ignoring polls entirely and hitching their cart to one horse, while barely touching the other candidates. They have their one obligatory Warren article a week, but its easy to tell who they’re voting for when you go through their website.
Not to mention our current news cycle! How are journalists supposed to report on Beto’s stance on healthcare when we have Trump facing an impeachment inquiry and is now declaring it an act of treason. It’s exhausting to keep up with everything, and impossible to decide on what to bring attention to.
This isn’t limited to this week either, for the past few years reporters have had a whirlwind of scandals and controversial policies to discuss and that leaves little room for coverage of presidential candidates.
So yes, the news plays a vital role in the election process, but if there were a time to weigh what the means for the voters, it would be now.