Craig will be talking about this topic on CNN’s Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz (Sunday, 11 AM ET)
Let the news media handwringing begin. It’s another predictable scene in our presidential campaign soap opera. Why didn’t we cover more issues? How could we chase so many silly stories? Too much horse race reporting. Obsession with polls. And so on.
All legitimate concerns that we ask at the end of every campaign, but nothing much changes.
While the news media takes its ritual beating don’t let the candidates off the hook. This time around I’d even say the campaigns bear most of the blame.
Neither side wanted to talk specifics about much of anything. Distraction was the name of this game. Obama had a lousy first debate and his aides drove Big Bird to the stage. Romney has no plan of his own for the Middle East and stirs up the phony debate about security personnel at the Benghazi consulate.
Nearly every news cycle for months you can find tweets, YouTube ads and one-liners directly from the campaigns designed to ridicule and distract. Spokespeople are put forward daily to spin every nuance of the polls, but ask for the actual numbers behind Mitt Romney’s tax-and-spending rhetoric or President Obama’s next jobs plan and you get canned non-answers.
And maybe a billion dollars spent on TV ads mostly aimed at personally destroying the opponent.
Forget trying to press the candidates themselves on the issues. They spent way more time repeating vapid stump speeches to supporters and talking about nothing on fluffy talk shows than taking serious questions from serious journalists.
For sure, blame the media for taking the bait without fail. But don’t forget it was the only “substance” these campaigns put out there.