I read a lot. Many people that know me will tell you this. One of my favorite pastimes is reading various political blogs and news sites in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The contrast between the three regions and their coverage of politics is absolutely breathtaking at times.
When I read sites like The Stilletoed Socialist or the British Broadcasting Corporation, I feel like I get a comprehensive look at political news and a breakdown of the issues. That will be even more important when looking at politics in the United Kingdom because of the alliance between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, two parties that have historically been at odds with one another on many issues. When I listen to and read such news sites as the Toronto Star or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it seems as if they spend more time covering…well….the issues. A look on the CBC’s Politics site reveal news on the Aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the G20 conference in Toronto, and news about the Canadian Senate, which is still in session throughout the summer.
When I go to the Politico or listen to NPR (which I love enough to criticize), however, what do I hear about or see? Sarah Palin.
I understand that she has appeal, and I understand that she has become a somewhat powerful figure on the Right. What I cannot understand is this: why should I be told about EVERY endorsement that she has to make? I mean, it is not like she was a former President or Vice President. You can barely call her a former governor, given that she left office in the middle of her term to do what she is doing now: making money off conducting speeches and firing up conservative activists across the country.
One particular group of endorsements really got me fired up about this. Last week, she endorsed a group of what she likes to call her Mama Grizzlies. This group included U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), conservative activist Star Parker (who I have seen at the University of Minnesota-Morris in person), and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK). This group of endorsements was pretty strange though: McMorris Rodgers has no serious opposition, Parker will likely be crushed in her race against U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) in a district that includes Compton, and Fallin, who was previously Oklahoma’s lieutenant governor for 16 years before entering Congress in 2006, will likely become the next Governor of Oklahoma since she has leads on both of her potential Democratic opponents. So essentially, she made endorsements that will have next to no effect on the races involved, or on the body politic in general, yet when listening or reading two different news sources, I got to hear about what these endorsements “mean”.
It seems that we are practicing a diminished level of journalism from the days of Truman exposing waste in the United States military or Edward R. Murrow ending one of America’s ugliest periods of history on national television. Whether that trend is following or leading the attention or political acumen of Americans is another story entirely. In an era where people want their news right now and cannot be bothered to wait for the morning paper or the 11PM newscast, it is understandable that 24-hour news organizations need to fill the time with something. But I have to wonder if we are not appealing to the lowest common denominator here. I have to wonder if mainstream news organizations are failing us by not digging deeper into issues affecting Americans?
I suppose that I am saying that when I read or listen to the news, I should get….news. Is that too much to ask?