Where Are The Issues?

Dave Johnson

You know those TV segments where they go out and ask regular Americans things like “Who is the Vice President?” and “Should we allow immigration from New Mexico?”, and the people-on-the-street give answers like, “What’s a Vice President?” and “I think we should send all the Muslims back to New Mexico”? Apparently the people working in America’s “news” media would do even worse if forced to answer similar questions.

Corporate Media Not Covering Issues

America’s news media used to cover actual news and felt a responsibility to provide information to citizens in a democracy. Now, they don’t. Journalism professionals once took pride in explaining complicated issues to the public, digging out corporate fraud, creating informative documentaries and helping prepare people to make informed decisions in our elections.

But like so much else in our country, our news media has been corporatized. The citizens journalism used to serve are now seen as nothing more than consumers to sell things to. The “customer” they now serve is the advertiser. Media corporations run their “news” operations for profit and want to deliver consumers to the advertisers. So, they offer entertainment instead of actual information. The “journalists’ are hired for their looks instead of their depth of knowledge and their drive to speak truth to power.

One Candidate Offers Entertainment, The Other Offers Policies

One candidate offers actual policies and proposals, the other offers … entertainment. Which one does the “news” media flock to?

OurFuture.org’s Bill Scher nailed it in his post, “On Policy, It’s No Contest. Clinton: 112,735 Words, Trump: 9,000.” Scher boldly went where no corporate media reporter has gone before:

Yet we cannot easily compare the policy visions of the two major party candidates. One reason is that the phrase “flip-flop” doesn’t begin to describe Republican candidate Trump’s willingness to reverse himself when convenient, contradict himself within minutes and serve up word salad to avoid taking clear stances.

Another reason is that only one candidate is bothering to offer a comprehensive set of policy proposals.

As the Associated Press reported, “Trump’s campaign has posted just seven policy proposals on his website, totaling just over 9,000 words. There are 38 on [Democratic candidate Hillary] Clinton’s “issues” page, ranging from efforts to cure Alzheimer’s disease to Wall Street and criminal justice reform, and her campaign boasts that it has now released 65 policy fact sheets, totaling 112,735 words.”

Scher lists the areas where Clinton and Trump are offering policy papers. Trump offers these for four issue areas, Clinton thirty-eight. And Trump’s generally consist of what he said to a rally Saturday:

“I will give you good results,” he said to cheers. “Don’t worry how I get there, OK?”

Which candidate is receiving the news coverage — the policy wonk or the entertainer? Is the public being informed of the issues in this campaign? We all know the answer. The for-profit corporate media is giving literally billions of dollars worth of free “exposure” to the entertainer, and almost entirely ignoring the important policy issues of this campaign.

Clinton Not Helping

Clinton isn’t helping matters. For a while she was clearly stating how she would make people’s lives better. Toledo Blade, August 1, “Clinton touts her jobs plan at Ohio rally”:

Her 21-minute speech focused on her plans for an economy that, as she says, works for all Americans.

She vowed to make the largest investment in jobs since World War II in her first 100 days in office.

August 10 in Des Moines:

According to Clinton, her plan would include the largest investment in job creation since World War II.

“How are we going to do that? Well, we’re going to invest in infrastructure,” Clinton said. “These are good jobs and a lot of them are good union jobs with good pay and benefits. See, I have this old-fashioned idea that the middle class of America is what makes America’s economy work.”

That’s how you win elections. That’s how you let people know that voting for you will make their lives better. Where did that go?

She may or may not be focused on this in campaign speeches but if she is the media is not covering it. Her campaign ads are diverting attention from this message as well.

What has happened to Clinton’s poll standing since her focus on jobs stopped being reported?

“It’s The Economy, Stupid”

Who was it who focused on the economy with the internal 1992 campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid”? That candidate won the presidency.

One more thing. The crowds at Trump rallies, prompted by the candidate, are chanting “Lock them up, lock them up.” They’re talking about the people working in the news media. Those working in the news media probably ought to realize that they might actually mean it and stop playing this election as an entertainment event and instead take it seriously.

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