Media

Policy vs. the Horse Race

| Wed Sep. 15, 2010 3:35 PM EDT

Atrios on the media's distaste for policy discussions:

One thing that is continually frustrating in our media is that the people who are paid to talk about politics focus on the polls, the horse race, the "appeal" of the candidate. I was listening to NPR for a bit and it took callers to inject any issues of policy or substance.

The modern press corps obviously deserves some of the blame for this, but for what it's worth, I'd add that politicians do too. After all, when was the last time you heard a politician give a genuinely interesting answer to a policy question? It happens sometimes, but the vast majority of the time you just get a canned talking point, a refusal to answer at all combined with a switch to some other topic, or a fat dollop of obviously dishonest spin. What's more, it's usually the exact same talking point, topic switch, or spin that you've heard a hundred times before. This makes it pretty unrewarding to ask about policy.

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