strategic vs substantive coverage

SWANSEA, S.C. — In Washington, Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina was sharply criticized by both Democrats and his fellow Republicans for shouting “You lie!” during President Obama’s health care address on Wednesday. But here in his strongly Republican Congressional district on Thursday, he was celebrated by many of his constituents for his outburst.wilson_190

Even the Times is guilty of focusing on the strategic aspects of political coverage.  When Congressman Wilson charged the president as a liar, the focus was on the civility breach, whether he should apologize, and whether his home district supported his actions (it did).  Various fact-check services have noted that the president was correct and Wilson incorrect concerning the claim about coverage for illegal immigrants.  That got lost in the shuffle, as the truth often does when the news media focus on the strategy of the “game.”  New routines of balance are set up to frame conflict as one side against another, often as a 50/50 proposition.  As the Republican base shrinks to a white, mainly Southern base, and becomes aligned with the most extreme elements of the right-wing, media depiction of politics as left-right, one side vs. the “other” will tend to make the debate appear more shrill and extreme than the real consensus may otherwise indicate.

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One Response to “strategic vs substantive coverage”

  1. Nicole Raney Says:

    The last few sentences in this post are probably the best summarization of what I think of as one of the most important issues today: that we tend to focus less on what people think and more of what side thinks the most like them. We try to prescribe to a side, to the left or the right, to the liberal or the conservative, when in reality our views are our own. Thank you for so easily stating and issue that I have struggled so long to find the words to describe.

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