Because they make the media do (even more) foolish things. Paging Politico.
Headline: "Psychics: Stars not aligned for Palin"
[Elizabeth] Joyce, whose website claims she was "born with the authentic gift of psychic ability," was one of a handful of prominent psychics Politico surveyed to get a better "sense" of how the Palin-Biden matchup might shake out. According to their occult minds, Biden has the edge and, ominously, the moon and stars are not aligned in Palin's favor.
Joe Biden "has benefited from resources and relationships not available to average Americans."
And yes, that's an A1 story today.
Instead of adopting the ready GOP strategy of bashing it. NPR examines the gamble the McCain camp took.
On MSNBC's Hardball, Chuck Todd said that Sen. Barack Obama "was judged as not winning" the first presidential debate, asserting that "it was somewhat of a draw." But national post-debate polls contradict Todd's assertion, with Obama receiving higher marks from respondents than Sen. John McCain.
In a blog post, washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad attacking a Democratic House member who voted in favor of an earmark for "the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service," but Cillizza did not note that 89 House Republicans also voted in favor of the earmark.
During the 2000 campaign, New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye promoted the image of Al Gore as a liar and exaggerator -- and she did so by making up things that he never said, then explaining that they weren't true.
This morning, Seeyle posted a preview of tonight's VP debate on the Times blog The Caucus. In it, she outlined what she'll be "watching for," both generally and for each candidate. Given her previous obsession with falsehoods and exaggerations, and given Sarah Palin's well-documented penchant for both, you might assume Seeyle would mention the danger for Palin in saying something that isn't true, or in exaggerating her record.
Wrong. Seeyle didn't devote so much as a single word to the possibility that Palin might say something incorrect or unduly self-aggrandizing. Apparently, that isn't as important to Seelye as the crucial question of whether Biden will "help Ms. Palin with her chair."
Never content to let political events unfold on their own, the press seems obsessed with reminding us, ad nauseam, just how important the Next Big Thing is.
After last week proclaiming 100 million people were going to watch the first presidential debate (a Chuck Todd prediction that was only off by 46 million), the press goes right back to the hype game for Thursday's VP forum:
"Probably the most-anticipated vice presidential faceoff ever." (AP)
"Probably the most anticipated vice presidential debate ever." (Chicago Tribune)
"The most anticipated vice presidential debate in history." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"The most anticipated vice presidential debate in history." (Newsweek)
"What may be the most anticipated vice presidential debate in history." (Politico)
How should tonight's showdown be described? Seems washingtonpost.com got it right when it dropped the breathless hype in favor of actual journalism: "Tonight's heavily anticipated debate."
See, that's not so difficult.
In a blog post, Jay Carney claimed that Sen. John McCain's "campaign has released a 60-second ad that uses Bill Clinton's words to pin the blame for the mortgage crisis on Democrats" without noting that in the interview clipped in the ad, Clinton actually said that "the biggest mistake" was the SEC's repealing of a regulation on short selling, when President Bush was in office.
And if not, why is he treated him like one this week?
That's the excellent question posed at CJR. It comes in the wake of Sarah Palin's appearance on the conservative talk show host's syndicated program where she dutifully fielded a series of GOP softball questions.
Lots of journalists cited the Palin interview and even posted extensive transcripts online. But as CJR noted:
There is zero journalistic value in Hewitt's interview. There isn't even the illusion of critical distance, of healthy skepticism, of intellectually honest inquiry, of some sense that it is crucial to deeply sound out this person who wants to lead our nation at such a perilous time on what she would bring to the table.
Yet very few reporters pointed that out. Instead, they seemed to treat the Palin Q&A as a newsworthy event. Here's why that's trouble:
If you're going to call attention to Hewitt's work, why not go the extra step and label it what is? Otherwise, you risk giving Hewitt's hackery the imprimatur of real journalism.
On his radio show, Hugh Hewitt did not challenge Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that the "extreme position" on abortion Sen. Barack Obama took in the Illinois state Senate included "not even supporting a measure that would during a -- after a botched abortion and that baby's born alive -- allowing medical care to cease and allowing that baby to die." But Obama and other opponents said that the legislation to which Palin referred posed a threat to abortion rights and was unnecessary because Illinois law already prohibited the conduct being addressed by the bill.
Several media figures have asserted that Gov. Sarah Palin faces "low" or "lowered" expectations in the upcoming vice-presidential debate and that she therefore faces a lower bar for victory than Sen. Joe Biden. They have made these assertions despite criticism by at least one member of the media over the media's setting of a lower bar for Palin and despite praise of her performance in the Alaska gubernatorial debate by others in the media and by McCain campaign surrogate Mitt Romney.
A Time/SRBI poll asked likely voters with an "unfavorable opinion" of Sen. Barack Obama to respond to various "reasons that voters give us for having an unfavorable opinion of Barack Obama," which included: "He's really a Muslim and not a Christian"; "He's an elitist who doesn't understand the needs of ordinary people"; and, "He's not as patriotic as he should be."
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Megyn Kelly falsely suggested it was publicly revealed that PBS' Gwen Ifill was the author of the forthcoming book, The Breakthrough, only after it was announced she would moderate the upcoming vice presidential debate. In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the announcement.
We've noted before how the campaign press seems reluctant to ask pointed questions about Palin's religious beliefs. Specifically, if she believes that Christ will come again in her lifetime as part of the End Times theology her former church preached, and how that End Times belief might guide her decision-making as vice president.
The Real News Network just posted an informative video about Palin's fundamentalist faith and asks why the press isn't posing direct questions about it.