My eyes have been opened through the power of a squinty little thumbnail graphic.
At the top of this morning's Google News page is a section of stories about next week's New Hampshire presidential primary. The picture next to the links to the news stories, however, looked like a baseball player talking to a hockey player.
I assumed that the graphic was a mixup not caught by editors, but when I clicked on the link to make sure, I saw that it was, in fact, a political photograph. Looking eerily like Michael Dukakis riding around in a tank with a big helmet on, John Kerry was wearing a hockey helmet, standing next to a player from the Boston Bruins, wearing a baseball cap.
What message am I supposed to get from this picture? How is it supposed to help my vote? John Kerry can talk to hockey players - stop the presses!
Going back to the Google news page, it occurred to me how much mainstream political journalists have become like the worst sports commentators.
You know how it goes: You turn on the ESPN pre-game show and these thick-necked, balding ex-jocks are sitting in their suits and ties giving essentially empty blabber about the teams that will play against each other that afternoon.
We're told that one of the coaches "really wants to limit the ability of the other team to play effectively". The team with the losing record is advised that "They're going to have to get some points up on the scoreboard today". Another commentator reveals the startling secret that "the name of the game is really to move down the field".
This kind of babble is meant to entertain the kind of sports fanatic who will listen to any sentence that includes the word "ball", "goal", or "stadium". Could it be that the same kind of babble-filler journalism has been developed for political junkies as well? Too true, too true!
Just think about what we've heard from political reporters during the last couple of days. "John Kerry is still in New Hampshire, campaigning hard to win as many votes as he can." No kidding! "Howard Dean is hoping to reverse his slide in the polls." What a mystery! "The Democrats are going to vote for someone who can win." Holy circular reasoning, Batman!
Here are the headlines I find on this morning's Google News:
Can you imagine the couple who opens up a morning paper filled with headlines like that? "Dear! Come quick and look at this story! You won't believe it, but the candidates are making their final pitches in New Hampshire! What can it mean?"
I admit it. I'm a political junkie. I'm not so far addicted to political news, however, that I'm going to settle for this kind of filler material. There are real issues, and points of difference, that need to be examined by intelligent voters. I'll skim over the political reporters who give 110 percent in search of something more substantial, thank you.
Put my headline on page 11: "Voters cancel subscription to paid news services: Inane political reporting to blame"
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