The news media's lack of analysis regarding the policy proposals of the leading presidential candidates is disheartening. The media have relinquished their responsibilities to inform the public; instead, they have become entertainment impresarios, hailing the masses to the big top to see the bearded lady and the fat man. I don't see an ounce of intelligent coverage out there.
The public doesn't really need analysis of President Obama's 2012 platform. He is in power now, and whatever the public is getting from him now, it will get for four more years. If he has any ideas, he is proposing them now. There's no reason to believe he would withhold any legislation that would help the country until after the elections, so what you see is what you get.
The Republican hopefuls have put their proposals on their websites and espouse them on the stump. But instead of telling Americans what they would get and what they would lose under each candidate's platform, the media spew junk stories that match the mentality of the tabloids.
The leading cable news network, Fox News, trots out so-called journalists such as Charles Krauthammer, whose in-depth analysis consists mostly of informing the viewers over and over how Mitt Romney, while unpopular, is the most "electable" of the Republican candidates, that Newt Gingrich has "too much baggage," and that Ron Paul is unelectable.
On the Bill O'Reilly show recently, that view was reinforced as the guest host started the show with a positive Romney campaign ad, and then went on to ask if revelations that Mr. Gingrich once supported Romneycare and its individual mandate will cripple his candidacy.
Meanwhile, on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, a host quite capable of explaining policy differences, was attacking Fox News for their treatment of Ron Paul.
It seems the media is covering each other. She's quite right that Fox has dismissed Mr. Paul from Day One as someone who couldn't possibly win the Republican nomination. But is that really news?
This is yellow journalism at its worst. The guests Fox News parades across the stage declare Ron Paul's foreign policy to be sheer lunacy, yet it isn't even close to being as isolationist as that of countries like Switzerland. And when was the last time Islamic zealots burned the Swiss flag in effigy, or jihadists flew a plane into a Swiss building?
Meanwhile, Chris Matthews expresses a fear that the economy will improve too soon, which might hurt President Obama's chances for re-election because people might start looking for work again and drive up the unemployment numbers.
This is madness. I don't know how the media sleeps at night. And we have another year of this to go.
Chances are, Americans really may end up basing their decision on who to vote for in 2012 on whether a candidate has "too much baggage," whether or not he or she is "nuts," whether a candidate "flip flops too much" or whether he or she is "out of touch with the mainstream on foreign policy."
But almost none of them will make the decision based on how their lives would be changed for better or worse by those running for president, and the fault for that lies squarely with the media.
Fred Pasek, FrederickCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun