Here’s One Simple Rule For Deciding Who the Media Covers

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Paul Waldman notes today that Marco Rubio is the latest beneficiary of the media spotlight. Why?

If history is any guide, the “outsider” candidates will eventually fall, and Rubio is the only “insider” candidate whose support is going up, not down. Scott Walker is gone, Jeb Bush is struggling, and none of the other officeholders seem to be generating any interest among voters. Rubio has long had strong approval ratings among Republicans, so even those who are now supporting someone else don’t dislike him. He’s an excellent speaker both with prepared texts and extemporaneously. When you hear him talk he sounds informed and thoughtful, and much less reactionary than his actual ideas would suggest. He presents a young, Hispanic face for a party that desperately needs not to be seen as the party of old white guys.

This is all true, but it gives the media way too much credit. Here’s the rule they use for deciding who to cover:

  • If you’re leading or rising in the polls, you get coverage.

That’s it. All the other stuff about Rubio has been true all along, and nobody cared about him. Now he’s rising in the polls and is currently in about fourth place. So he’s getting coverage.

This happened first to Donald Trump, then to Ben Carson, then to Carly Fiorina, and now to Rubio. Bernie Sanders, oddly enough, remains fairly immune. Maybe this rule only applies to Republicans this year.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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