Posted by: eratigan | August 5, 2009

Watts’s Elite Cues vs. Crouse’s Boys on the Bus

Watts’s article concerning the American perception of a biased media and how election coverage creates a parasitic relationship reminded me of a book I mentioned in class–Tim Crouse’s Boys on the Bus.

Crouse’s non-fiction book, expanded from a series of Rolling Stone articles, chronicles the 1972 presidential campaign and the press corp who tagged along. It’s a scary book both for revealing what happens behind the scenes–in between and during the campaign stops–and the media’s role in that, as well as proving how little has changed in the game of politics in the last 35 years. From what I can tell, it’s only the playing field that looks a bit different.

Watts outlines the nature of the campaign–how the mere assignment of a reporter to a candidate is a kind of stamp of approval, an acceptance of viability by the media. Crouse talks about how no reporter wants to cover a losing campaign because it reflects poorly on their career. This could be another form of bias that Watts doesn’t address in his article. (I realize Watts talks more about the rising perception of a biased media in the past two decades, but Crouse’s book shows that people may be right.)

On the flip side, these “embedded” journalists are the experts on their candidates. If one wasn’t assigned to a campaign, we’d have the same amateur problem as in judicial reporting that Graber discussed in her book.

To tie it back to Watts argument, the fault of the campaign press corps is that they aren’t covering their beat like experts. Instead, they’re focusing on the trivial, as Waldman claimed in “Pay No Attention…”.

The dilemma continues: is there any “good” way to cover a presidential campaign?

Horseraces are all the same, I guess.

Horseraces are all the same, I guess.

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