Media Chase The Cain Circus Miss The Real Scandal

Bill Scher

Last month, CBS conducted a poll asking “what do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”

In first place was, “economy and jobs,” with 57%.

in second place was, the “budget deficit” and “national debt,” with … 5%.

Every other issue was 3% or less.

I’m just spitballin’ here … but maybe the public would like to create more jobs.

Maybe, just maybe, with the presidential primaries close by, the public would like to hear what the presidential candidates have to say about how we can create more jobs.

Maybe, just maybe, the public would like reporters to press the presidential candidates to go beyond stale platitudes what explaining what they would do to create jobs.

Maybe, just maybe, the public would like to see reporters take the ideas offered by the presidential candidates and hold up to objective scrutiny from independent economists.

Instead, what are political reporters doing this week?

Cranking up the usual circus around sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain.

Now, sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue, and if a presidential candidate is a culprit, the public certainly has a right to know.

But let’s be serious with ourselves: the media isn’t taking sexual harassment seriously. It is merely running its sensationalized story playbook, creating a “whodunnit” game show for viewers to play at home.

Reporters also know full well that Herman Cain is not going to be president, because he has a joke resume and a joke campaign. Yet they are now spending an inordinate amount of time on him because he is tailor-made for their playbook, a perfect mix of intentionally cheeky quotes and unintentional (I think) contradictions … with the occasional ridiculous song thrown in.

it would be one thing if the media was conscientiously treating every candidate the same regardless of their polls or their staffing or their fundraising. But political reporters write off candidates all the time: ask Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson, two GOP candidates infinitely more qualified to be president than Cain, yet have never gotten much ink.

Cain has repeatedly proven his lack of seriousness for the job he is running for — sometimes it seems he is deliberately giving reporters the stupidest answer possible to their questions, just to see if he can get away with it. And the media do, because he is more fun to cover than Buddy “Campaign Finance Crankypants” Roemer.

Meanwhile, the Senate is about to vote on actual legislation to create jobs: the infrastructure component of the American Jobs Act. $60 billion to create jobs, including $10 billion to fund a bipartisan proposal for an infrastructure bank that would leverage hundreds of billions in private investment.

It’s literally bipartisan, hatched by Sens. John Kerry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, backed by the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Yet every Republican is expected to filibuster it anyway. To me, that’s the scandal.

While we grapple with on ongoing jobs crisis – the crisis that is top of the mind of nearly every voter — a good faith attempt at compromise, bringing together the public and private sector, is casually crushed like a bug.

That merits round-the-clock coverage.

There is a real debate going on about how do we create jobs, on the Senate floor, on the campaign trail and in the streets. That’s the issue voters care about the most … by miles.

Yet the political media only give it the barest of their attentions, while they wait for the next sensationalized story to be fed to them by a political operative.

The two parties disagree. And there are disagreements within the parties.

The presidential candidates, including the incumbent, have plans that differ on public investment, taxes, regulation, trade, energy, labor and more.

Reporters could spend a lot of time helping voters understand what is in the various plans, and if there is basis for their proposals.

There’s still time.

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