From the latest weekly survey from Pew Research Center's Project For Excellence in Journalism:
In a campaign and media environment now focused strongly on the shape of the race, one staple of weekly coverage is the attention to strategy and tactics. Coverage of swing state battles (10% of the newshole), polls (6%), and fundraising (5%), and some other related storylines accounted for about one-quarter of last week's newshole. Add in the Powell endorsement (at 6%), which was frequently discussed in terms of its political potency, and that broad theme fills almost 30% of the coverage.
And this from Politico [emphasis added]:
Reporters obsess about personalities and process, about whose staff are jerks or whether they seem like decent folks, about who has a great stump speech or is funnier in person than they come off in public, about whether Michigan is in play or off the table.
Notice what campaign reporters are not obsessed with? Issues. Or more specifically, what candidates will do once elected. Seems like that's what campaign reporters are there for; to help educate news consumers. Journalists disagree. They want to know who's funnier and who's a jerk.
This becoming almost uncomfortable to watch.
Unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge that their beloved Drudge Report has, despite increasingly desperate efforts in recent days to tangle up the Obama campaign, lost its influence this campaign, proud Beltway Drudge-ologist are sticking with their script that Matt Drudge still rules their world.
The latest to tip his hat is Time's Mark Halperin, who writes up an item on The Page that suggests, via photoshop, the all-powerful Drudge is calling the shots from the Oval Office
The news? "For the second straight day, powerful Internetist tries to tip the flow against Obama," Halperin writes.
Second day? It's more like 22nd day, but who's counting. Halperin adds, "Follows recent pattern of posting things that seem not to help Obama -- including Biden's Orlando TV interview, the closer sets of polling data and more."
This is where the playing dumb becomes unbearable. If the press wants to ignore the fact that Drudge has become a bystander during this campaign, completely unable to alter the unfolding events in any significant way, so be it. But this whole phony Beltway narrative that Drudge is impossible to predict; that he's such an iconoclast he keeps everybody guessing, is really too much to take.
Let's give it a rest, okay? For nearly ten years Drudge has been a professional Dem hater and this White House campaign has been no different as he's used his site as a transparent conveyor belt to advertise the latest from the RNC oppo department.
Press insiders like Halperin won't acknowledge the truth, but his campaign has revealed Drudge for what he is, a partisan hack who has lost his juice.
Retiring Fox News anchor Brit Hume bemoans how nasty politics has become. From today's LA Times:
"The whole general tone of politics in this country has turned so sour and so bitter and so partisan," he said, his gravelly baritone more morose than usual. "It makes news, but after a while, it's dispiriting to cover it."
Hume remains mum on what role FNC played in the "general tone of politics in this country" over the last ten years. And (naturally) the LA Times failed the raise the obvious point with him.
About posting an essay about Obama being a warrior for the "Hidden Imam."
The Times columnists acts like it's a huge deal that a Democrat appears on the verge of winning the White House, just four years after president Bush and the GOP seemed to solidify their permanent majority.
In 2004, after President Bush won re-election with expanded Republican majorities in Congress, academics, journalists and party strategists wondered whether his blend of free-market economics, cultural conservatism and hawkishness on national security might create long-lasting Republican rule.
We'd ignore the "academics" and focus on the "journalists and party strategists" part from above because what happened in 2004 is Bush was re-elected, the GOP party spin was he'd won a mandate, and the press tripped over itself making that brash announcement.
Of course, it was the thinnest "mandate" on record. (Bush's final margin was almost identical to Jimmy Carter's win over Gerald Ford in 1976.) But the media remained wildly impressed that a wartime incumbent Republican president was able to (barely) defeat a liberal from Massachusetts.
So in truth, the GOP's permanent majority was a media creation, and one that Harwood still clings to today. (And CJR agrees.)
P.S. And what was up with Harwood's lead?
It would be remarkable, in any year, for a black Democratic candidate for president to be ahead in polls one week before Election Day. Even more remarkable is that it's happening this year.
Why would it be remarkable that a "black Democrat" is ahead one week before Election Day? Polls have shown for almost the entire year that Barack Obama had a legitimate chance of winning a general election race.
We won't have read any more thin, what-if election columns that beat the same issue into the ground without providing any new insights. Like this one today by the WSJ's Gerald Seib.
Is that conservative outlets that make the case have no standing to lecture anyone about the state of journalism.
Case in point, Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham whose latest, "Election 2008: Objective journalism the loser," finds the scribe if full whiner mode.
Please note the irony though, of the Boston Herald, an openly partisan tabloid that often cuts journalism corners to score political points, instructing other newsroom about objectivity. The Herald hasn't practiced that in years. But now all of a sudden Graham considers himself an expert in the topic?
Sorry, we'll pass.
P.S. Newsbusters seems to be confused about the Herald's loyalties.
Who claims the media has thrown away all its credibility by fawning over Barack Obama.
The column, by a tech writer named Michael Malone, has been all the rage online for the last week, with practically every conservative writer with an Internet connection linking to the piece and hailing it as the unvarnished truth about the press and the campaign; about the media's "bewildering" "bias" as Malone calls it.
Now abcnews.com had decided to give Malone a truly national platform with a "Special to ABC News" column. And yes, we're still searching abcnews.com for a voice from the left sharply critiquing the media performance during the campaign season. We'll alert you as soon as we find it or when someone at ABC News sends us the link.
That being said, what's worth noting here is that Malone's now-viral column is pretty much loony.
After a long-winded preamble about his deep love for journalism and something about the war in Lebanon, and how, according to Malone, he was, "one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather" (oh good), he finally gets down to a specific example of how the press has thrown away all its credibility by going so easy on Obama.
And here it is: "Why..haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer?"
I kid you not. Malone thinks journalism is a joke because Obama's drug dealer from grad school hasn't been interviewed this campaign season.
He then goes on for many, many more paragraphs prescribing how to fix journalism, although Malone did a dreadfully bad job documenting what's wrong with it in the first place. Minus the missing drug dealer, that is.
Like I said, the effort is pretty loopy. But because right-wingers turned it into a blogosphere hit, ABC News thought it was a good idea to reproduce the column on the widely read abcnews.com site.
That's why it's called working the refs.
The Beltway media's continued fixation with all-things Republican, even as the extraordinary rise of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party continues, is quite amazing to watch. Just look at The Note from ABC News today, which is all-GOP/all-the-time.
In terms of The Note's linked references today, Drudge? Check. Bill Kristol? David Frum? Check. Byron York? Check. Fred Barnes? check.
The Note doesn't bother to link to a single liberal/Democratic pundit today? Check.