May 28, 2009
The media feeding frenzy over President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court provides us with yet another reason why so many newspapers and news magazines are going broke: They beat stories to death. There has been quite a bit of hype in the run-up to Obama’s announcement of his choice. News outlets have been salivating in anticipation of a protracted, partisan brawl with visions of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, dancing in their heads. A visit to the RealClearPolitics website for May 27 provides the reader with an assaultive profusion of articles concerning the Sotomayor nomination.
There are a couple of simple dynamics at work here. With his nomination of Judge Sotomayor, President Obama has set out a trap for partisan Republicans, hell-bent on opposing any nominee selected by the Democrat for the high court. Once these “attack dogs” pounce on Sotomayor, they reinforce the public perception of the GOP as the Party of White Men. They would not only alienate female voters but they would also antagonize Hispanic voters. This is exactly why you won’t really see that much of a fight over her nomination. On the other hand, a political “has been” such as Newt Gingrich, sees the Sotomayor nomination as the perfect opportunity to keep his fat face in front of the cameras, without any apparent regard as to whether his remarks could exacerbate the GOP’s image problem. The “hard right” media outlets and other authoritarian activist groups have instinctively responded by filling in the blanks on their pre-written scripts to include Sotomayor’s name as well as the necessary touch-ups to relate their remarks to this particular target. One smear fits all.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet . . . It’s all a waste of your time. You need only read one story about the Sotomayor nomination and it was written by Mike Allen of Politico. Relying on confidential Republican sources, Mr. Allen reports that “the GOP plans no scorched-earth opposition to her confirmation”. At this point, I should advise you that the hissing sound you are hearing is all the air coming out of the tires for those pundits, hoping to expand this story into an epic drama and an eventual book deal. It’s not happening. As Mike Allen reported:
“The sentiment is overwhelming that the Senate should do due diligence but should not make a mountain out of a molehill,” said a top Senate Republican aide. “If there’s no ‘there’ there, we shouldn’t try to create one.”
The news media shouldn’t try to create one, either . . . but they will anyway. What else are they going to discuss? You’re already sick of the American Idol stories. So what they’re left with is the economy. They hate that subject because the public and their own reporters are too dumb to understand it. Besides … it’s boring and it involves math! Never mind the fact that you’re going broke. Just smoke your “green shoots” and believe in a “hope rally” for the stock market.
It’s always refreshing when someone such as Mike Allen undermines the mainstream media hype machine by sticking to the simple truth of a story. In this case the simple truth is that the story itself is quite simple.