Nightly News Takes a Dive on Issues This Year

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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.

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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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