Sunday, March 23, 2014

Off topic: a mildly political question about media coverage

So the 2016 election is still 2 years away, yet every single article I see about Hillary Clinton has a negative tone, beginning with Time magazine's "Can anyone stop Hillary?" last summer.

The rhetorical move there is called "begging the question," mainstream media; it's a logical fallacy and assumes the answer to a question by avoiding it--as in "of course, someone should stop Hillary. Who's our best shot for doing so?"

Did the Koch brothers buy up Time and the rest of the news media and not tell anyone? Or do they figure that if they dangle enough shiny Kardashians in front of us, we won't notice? Or is it just part of the "tear down--resurrect--tear down again" cycle that they use with all celebrities?

I hear tell that Time used to be a news magazine, albeit one with a conservative bent. Remember the old saying "Life [a now-defunct picture magazine] is for people who can't read, and Time is for people who can't think"?

Yes, the MSM treats politics like a horse race, and yes, they correctly assume that the US public has the attention span of a gnat.  But if they want it to be an interesting race, why don't they talk about new policies or something substantive rather than dredging up Buzzfeed-worthy headlines about "5 Secrets about Hillary Clinton's White House Years"--which ended, lest we forget, nearly 15 years ago.


3 comments:

pat said...

It is odd, isn't it? But it could also be that progressives see her as almost anointed, and are fearing there will be no chance for anyone to the left of her.
I haven't read the Time magazine article, so can't judge its tone.

undine said...

I was so annoyed by the cover and the question (a woman's feet in red spike heels, running) that I confess I didn't read it.

naptimewriting.com said...

I attended a conference panel on women running for office and the speakers all had dismal stories to tell about how female candidates prepare for political campaigns with a slew of exercises, assuming that they will be judged harshly and differently from male candidates. Techniques for deflecting comments about hair and clothing, suggested approaches for deflecting "why aren't you running for school board?" questions, and warnings intended to brace your family for the insults guaranteed to be flung at your character are part of the common preparations for candidates who happen to have a uterus.

I believe some of the rhetoric surrounding all conjecture about Clinton's run for office is at least 25 years old. This is classic 80s anti-feminist misogynistic vitriol, and frankly, I believe more voters than usual will see right through it.

But I also believe the pre-emptive strikes against her belie an inherent frustration from both Left and Right: she's about as centrist as this country has right now. Most of her progressive colleagues are farther to the Left and all the centrist Right candidates are shouted down by the libertarian/Tea Party far Right.

And someone who isn't idealistic enough is playing with fire in a polarized political landscape.