The mechanism of a democratic republic Is the electoral process. News reports can help voters choose better for themselves. Unfortunately, the frantic hyperbole of the news media degrades the system whereby our government leaders are chosen.
The Advent of Personality Journalism
The media has made news into a personality driven entertainment. Roone Arledge turned last place in the ratings ABC News, into a powerhouse, on his philosophy that people are more interested in an event if they know the individual story of the person involved, to know them personally. This enhanced the news personality aspect of ratings and distribution competition. News anchors and reporters had to be personally distinctive, over the quality of their reporting. Later this carried over to other news organizations as print publications had to compete in the same digital spaces. This is how we got The Jim Acosta show, the real life version of the movie “Anchorman”. “ Hey everyone, look how good I look!”
Election Night Countdown
The problem with news coverage of election nights is the sports style. Instead of just waiting until all votes are counted, and reporting on it the next day, they make an event of it, just like a sports event. It becomes Election Night Countdown. There’s the official theme songs signifying this is a big event. There’s the big introduction hyping the bean counting and introducing your companions for the evening.
They could make an even larger extravaganza.
If only Chris Berman were there. “He…could… go… all.. the… way!”
Perhaps Bela Karolyi might inspire with his “You can do it!”
Musical montages and a dance performance are integral to the other awards shows, so why not an election themed version of a Michael Jackson dancing music video?
The hosts and guests stall for time as vote totals trickle along. While the partial scores are flashed below them, they blah blah, about minutiae, and inherently deficient and unreliable speculative guesses combined with irrelevant statistics that they call polling “data”. This “analysis” is intended to convince everyone they are able to predict the future. After all, they have been developing this sham and their unfounded narratives throughout each election in what the jargon calls the “election cycle”.
Throughout the night, when everyone should just go to bed and deal with whatever comes, when it actually comes, instead they exclaim their “projections “. They are oh so proud of their beating the competitors to declare the winner. Of course, some of the biggest embarrassments in journalistic history happened when the guesses were wrong. Hey pollsters, what were the odds in Clinton vs. Trump? Tell us about your skill. Well, no one in this era threatens to overtake Nostradamus as the Best of All Time in predicting the future, and even he didn’t predict everything, did he?
The night plods along, as the professional political speculators try to make excuses for their inability to count the votes themselves.
Finally the final guesses are announced. The postgame analysis, with news conferences and interviews conclude, and everyone goes to bed, regretting spending their time on the meandering commentaries.
If there weren’t such a hurry to declare a winner a few hours too early, the 100% count could be reported without the occasional surprise flip. A recount wouldn’t be so disastrous if everyone hadn’t invested so much time in anticipating its ending. Everything could occur in its due course. However, modern “look at us” news organizations don’t care about their viewers or the health of the government “of the people, by the people and for the people “.
These same reporters go into overdrive when there is a close result and a mandatory recount. The politicians and their lawyers grandstand, while others try to cheat to win. The attempts to overturn settled elections, and to steal closely contested races, is a travesty.
The United States Elections are the Laughingstock of the World
The United Stares advocates for, and promotes “free and fair elections” worldwide. Political leaders often invoke the sacrifices of war veterans and casualties involved in defending the citizens’ right to choose their government representatives. When we can’t manage it in our own country, our protestations abroad are laughable and hypocritical. It is an international embarrassment, when it happens every election.
The news organizations must orient their style to benefit the electorate. The integrity of our democratic republic is necessary; The entertainment stylistics are not required and are a detriment to it The news organizations must report with at least a little respect for the system allowing their existence. Otherwise the American phenomenon is in for a rough ride.
Illustration: Scoreboard with the elections result 2016 United States.
Rohatynchuk Mykola/ Shutterstock