NARRATIVE vs. REALITY

You're watching your favorite football team (if you loathe the sport, play along for a moment) on a nice, relaxing Sunday. Five minutes into the third quarter the score is 42-3. Like clockwork, one of the announcers inevitably says, "This game ain't over yet…(insert losing team here) is the kind of team that can make up these points in a hurry!" His fellow announcer gamely concurs, elaborating a scenario in which the losing team makes up the deficit.

What such insipid commentary really means is obvious: Please don't change the channel. We lose a lot of advertising money if you do. Most importantly, we think you're enough of a mouth-breathing idiot to fall for our bald effort to create drama where none exists.

The dynamic of the current Democratic presidential nomination contest has not changed in the three weeks since I began writing this post – it is, by all but the most implausible of scenarios, mathematically impossible for Hillary Clinton to win. I am stunned, although certainly not surprised, that this fact has been almost entirely absent from the media's coverage. Seems relevant to me.

It is tempting to chalk this up to some flavor of media bias, but the idea of the media going out of its way to give Hillary Clinton a booster seat is dubious to say the least. No, this seems more like good old fashioned commercial bias. The "drama" provides a cheap, consistent storyline that appeals to both the media's lust for ratings and their thundering journalistic laziness. There's nothing the sponsors hate more than a game that's over by halftime.

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3 Responses to “NARRATIVE vs. REALITY”

  1. Mike Q Says:

    I think the fact she is getting a "booster seat" even though she said the media was coddling Barack is both interesting and thought provoking.

  2. J. Dryden Says:

    Back in the midst of the Clinton-Dole campaign, one in which every single poll consistently and unequivocally showed that Dole was, in the suprisingly well-chosen phrase of a contemporary SNL sketch "going to get beaten like a rented mule," Newsweek managed to find some tiny poll, somewhere, that showed the two candidates within a wide margin of error. And as a result, they ran the Great Big Headline on their front cover "Now It's A Race" or words to that effect. There is no new thing under the sun.

    Ever since Grub Street, puffery has always been a hallmark of journalism–competition in a free market will do that to you–and the advent of 24-hour news and the "we've gotta make the story change enough to keep people from switching channels" effect just made it worse. Witness, too, the added bonus of another completely bogus story: The Democrats Are Destroying Each Other–um, no, no they're not. Compared to what Bush's people did to McCain in the last open primary, the Clinton-Obama campaign looks like a tea party with a favorite aunt. These people are professionals–they'll fight until the fight is over, then shake hands and get on board to beat McCain. But that's not A Story. We've gone from Adams reminding us that "Facts are stubborn things" to Reagan's revelatory accidental revision "Facts are stupid things." As indeed they are. When facts get in the way of The Story…f*** 'em.

  3. Julie Says:

    The fact of the matter is that neither Democratic candidate can reach the number needed to secure the nomination without superdelegates. Both candidates will need superdelegates to secure the nomination. The myth that I frequently hear is that Hillary is the only one that needs superdelegates to get the nomination and if she gets their support she will have "stolen" the nomination…