Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Media, Money & Politics

By Bill Scheurer

With the end of the 2nd-Qtr filing period for Congressional candidates, our local newspapers like to tell us who has raised how much money. As if we care.

In the 2004 election up here in the 8th-District of Illinois, the two established parties spent $3.2 million on their Congressional campaigns, mostly on negative TV and mail ads. What did we learn from all this money?

That the Republican incumbent Phil Crane was a lobbyist junketeer, and that the Democratic challenger Melissa Bean did not live in the district. This is what passes for a “message” these days, and our press lets them get away with it.

Are local newspapers now as jaded and useless as TV news? If so, spare the trees.

When will the media understand that we the voters (and viewers, and listeners, and readers) do not care about the “inside baseball” of politics, “handicapping” the race, and all the other shopworn sports metaphors? Don’t tell us who is viable and who is not. Tell us what we need to know to exercise our civic responsibilities.

Maybe the media and political pros believe money is everything, but we do not. If so, why bother to vote at all? Just count up the money and tell us who wins.

Here is an idea. How about telling us what the candidates say and do?

How about telling us their ideas? About little things like -- oh, I don’t know -- how they propose to get us out of the quagmire in Iraq, how they plan to stop piling up the crushing load of debt we are leaving for our children, how they would end our fatal dependency on foreign oil, how they would fix the national crisis of 45 million of our neighbors without health insurance -- you know, little things like that.

How about actually covering the campaigns? Who knows, you might actually like it?

Of course, it is easier to pull the financial filings and regurgitate them, but that is not news. It is not journalism worthy of the name.

Let’s try something different this year. How about doing your job? So we can do ours. There simply is too much at stake.

Bill Scheurer edits The PeaceMajority Report and ran in the 2004 Democratic primary. wcscheurer@comcast.net


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