Nightly News Takes a Dive on Issues This Year


Andrew Tyndall notes that the nightly news no longer seems to care about policy debates:

This year’s absence of issues is an accurate portrayal of the turf on which the election is being played out….If the candidates are not talking about the issues, the news media would be misrepresenting the contest to do so.

With just two weeks to go, issues coverage this year has been virtually non-existent…. No trade, no healthcare, no climate change, no drugs, no poverty, no guns, no infrastructure, no deficits. To the extent that these issues have been mentioned, it has been on the candidates’ terms, not on the networks’ initiative.

I disagree with this on two levels. First, Hillary Clinton has talked plenty about issues in the conventional sense that Tyndall means it: speeches that cover specific policy proposals, with detail to back them up. Only Donald Trump has declined to do this.

More broadly, both candidates have talked about issues. Trump talks all the time about trade, immigration, ISIS, and guns. Clinton talks about childcare, ISIS, health care, guns, and so forth. There are lots of character attacks too, but then, that’s usually the case. But just because issues are talked about in broad strokes doesn’t mean they’re not talked about. They are. The network news broadcasts just don’t want to risk losing their audiences by forcing them to pay attention to such boring stuff.