Friday, February 10, 2012

Election Coverage Do's And Don'ts

Since we're getting into high-gear election coverage, before we get too much further into the process, let's just take today to remind all you people covering the election what is and is not something that voters might be able to use when they step into the booth, using recent election news as examples:

*The congressman facing an insider-trading probe, in this case Spencer Bachus of Alabama. Especially if he's chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
*People convicted of voter fraud. Especially if they're the top election official in the state, as happened in this story out of Indiana.
*Where candidates are getting their money or looking for money, or maybe not getting their money anymore. In this case, Sheldon Adelson has been single-handedly keeping Newt Gingrich in the race, and Foster Freiss has been doing likewise with Rick Santorum, but Adelson may be about ready to call it quits, meaning Gingrich has big problems.
*The potential of foreign money coming in as donations. Pick your least favorite country. Imagine money from there bankrolling a candidate. Enough said.
*In fact, pretty much anything that involves the words 'Citizens United' is an excellent choice.
*The topics that candidates choose to spend their time talking about given the chance. Although be wary of putting too much stock into it; given what happened after 2010, the topics candidates focus on during the campaign and the topics they'll focus on in office cannot be assumed to be one and the same.

*A candidate's campaign playlist. Does anyone but you really care how many songs on the playlist are by non-American bands? Do YOU even care? Has anyone ever gone into a voting booth and said 'Well, I was going to vote for Bob, but he used a Beatles song of all things! We declared INDEPENDENCE from England, you cur!' The only way this might matter in the slightest is if the artist tells them to stop using it, and then that's getting into matters beyond the song itself.
*Ralph Nader. Honestly, he's the reincarnation of Harold Stassen at this point. I'm pretty sure my 3-year-old nephew has more of an impact on politics than Nader does at this point.
*Where people are getting their election news. Let me tell you where they get their election news: everywhere. Everywhere they turn. Let me tell you who cares: the media and that's about it. Let me tell you who cares who got the best ratings or who was first to call the election: nobody except the media. Who was first to call the 2008 election for Obama? I don't know, you don't either, and whoever was first was probably only first by, like, two seconds because everyone called it for him as soon as the West Coast polls closed. Here's what people care about: you not blowing the call entirely like you did in 2000. That's it. Get the call right and you're golden. Nobody cares who called the race first. People care about who won the race.

Oh, and bit of an update on yesterday's post: Steve Holland, who introduced the bill to rename the Gulf of Mexico as the 'Gulf of America', turns out to have done so for the purposes of satire. Holland, a Democrat, did it to poke at the kind of things the Republican Party spends their time and energy on. I'll cop to having gotten taken like everyone else that saw the article, but again, I wasn't worried about what the Republicans thought of it. I was worried about what Mexico thought of it. And also: if you have to explain that your joke is in fact a joke, your joke didn't work.

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