Ezra Klein argues that "The presidential candidates need to be freed from the gaffe-hunting, sound-bite-obsessed media."
He hopes the media wont be mediating for long.
I have one complaint about his op-ed. He is ballanced feeling the need to complain about one gotcha of a Republican and inaccurately describing the case.
I don't think that most people will do without the media. Most people don't even follow politics via the media. I wonder how campaign journalism could be improved.
The problems are clear. They don't report enough on the policy debate to inform voters. They report predictions of who will win rather than helping us decide who should be elected. They emphasize the trivial.
I think Ezra Klein captures the essence of the problem here "ake the debates, which began as substantive clashes, until the moderators grew bored by the same old policy disputes"
I think one systematic problem is that the boys on the bus are forced to ride the bus, to report on campaign events from the site of the campaign event. Since they hear the same speech again and again, they are bored by it and stop reporting its content before most voters know the outlines of candidates proposed program. On the bush they talk to each other too much creating group think. They fall in love with a candidate who makes the experience less excruciatingly boring. Why are they on the bus ? Why do they listen to the same stump speech hundreds of times. Is there any worse way to get them to report it as news so long as it is news to most voters (that is up until just before the election).
I propose four reforms.
1) The assignment desk assigns a policy topic for each article/broadcast. For tomorrow we will look at health care, then Iraq, then the deficit, then terrorism, then Guantanamo, then the rule of law vs Presidential power, then Afghanistan, then Israel (boooooring day) then agriculture, then global warming, then gas prices, then inflation, then the housing market, then what to do to head off (or end) the recession. Topics taken from polls of what regular people say is important to them (so easy a chimpanzee could probably do it).
2) Reporters better not get caught talking to campaign flaks or other reporters. They should talk to ordinary people.
3) Reporters are randomly quizzed on candidates policy proposals and facts which can be brought up to challenge to assumptions made in those proposals. They don't have to report for wonks, but they know or find another beat (I hear lapel pins are in fashion).
4) Fire Tim Russert and replace him with Ezra Klein.