Thursday, February 21, 2008

Networks waiting for macaca

This year the political news, especially on television, seems geared to cover a presidential campaign meltdown in realtime. Just how far the competitive news channels will go with their reporting to contribute to bringing one on remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, a breathless coverage of the presidential race has become the norm. Minor meanderings along the long road to the White House have been reported as if they were hairpin curves executed at high speed. Story lines on the candidates have either grown legs to dance to the 24-hour-cycle drumbeat, or they’ve fallen off the map. The sizzle factor seems to have been the difference more than substance.

Obviously, such a willy-nilly process has stretched some stories out of proportion, making them seem more significant than they really are. Oh no! Huckabee’s campaign bus ran out of gas! Is it a metaphor?

Angles with potential to be worrisome, to cause widespread consternation, seem to have stood a better chance of being aired repeatedly than those without it. That's sizzle.

Behind the scene, it’s been the job of spin doctors from the campaigns to constantly feed what they hope are such angles to the working press. It’s an industry. A lot of people are making their living from all the smoke and mirrors being used to tell the story of the 2008 campaign.

This year, with no incumbent in the race, it looks like every minor faux pas is being auditioned as the newest macaca-sized mistake. The notion that someone is sure to mimic George Allen’s 2006 senatorial campaign meltdown, which torpedoed his second term as well as his plans to run for president, seems to be in the air. Which candidate will crumble under the pressure to supply the new macaca moment?

When will it happen? Stay tuned...

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