Election '08: Who's Up? Who's Down? Who Cares?

2008 election fatigue in February 2007

| February 8, 2007

There's Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Gore, McCain, Giuliani, Huckabee, and, of course, Biden. Each day's news cycle seems to dissect the chances of a new contender for the 2008 presidential race, or examine another state's efforts to jockey for a better position in the primaries. As political humorist Andy Borowitz notes in his Borowitz Report: 'With politicians throwing their hats in the ring at a torrid pace, by November of 2008 one out of every two Americans is expected to be running for the nation's highest office....'

Adding to the current bevy of coverage is the much touted Beltway media outlet, the Politico. Launched last month, the website, newspaper, and daily television show purports to cover the 'backstories' behind DC politics. Writing for the American Journalism Review, USA Today political reporter Kathy Kiely says the Politico's publisher, Robert Allbritton, 'is looming as a bigger hero in the journalistic pantheon than First Amendment author James Madison these days.' The site includes a prominent page devoted solely to 'Politics '08' and an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) web feed to keep readers continuously tuned in to new developments in the election. Unfortunately for readers, according to Gal Beckerman of CJR Daily, the Politico is currently, 'devoid of any discussion of the substance of politics.' Instead, the website has opted to focus on the 'hour-by-hour ticker of who's up and who's down.'

While such constant media coverage may not provide much in terms of substance, it has provided excellent fodder for comics like Borowitz and Jon Stewart. Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman recently reported (video) on the slew of states trying to bump their presidential primary elections to earlier in the year. Hodgman deadpanned that the 'perpetual campaign' of modern politics serves the 'secret cabal of political power brokers' who decide American elections. He then clued in viewers to the two 2008 candidates: 'Hillary Clinton versus Pepsi.'

As with any good satire, there's truth fueling the chuckles. Nonstop coverage of the 2008 election takes focus away from the actual business of government; a freshly elected Congress is, after all, currently in session. 'It seems as though journalists have been promising forever to move political coverage beyond the horse race,' Beckerman laments, 'and yet most days most political coverage delivers little more than that.'



Go there >> Will The Politico Foster More Horse Race Coverage?

Go there too >> Candidates to Outnumber Voters in '08