Post-mortems of contemporary election coverage typically include regrets about horserace journalism, he-said-she-said stenography, and the lack of enlightening stories about the issues.
But according to longtime political observers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.
Mann and Ornstein are two longtime centrist Washington fixtures who earlier this year dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital’s media elite and publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
The 2012 campaign further proved their point, they both said in recent interviews. It also exposed how fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media’s fear of being seen as taking sides.
That is the story of our time. And it has been, by the way, for quite a while. And after watching the Senate refuse to ratify a treaty last week solely on the basis of wingnut lunacy, I’m guessing it’s not changing any time soon. Perhaps people forget that these wackjobs impeached a president over a private indiscretion with the enthusiastic support of the media. That was as crazy as you can get in a democracy — except for their subsequent actions which included stealing an election and invading a country on false evidence. And now we’re on a crazed economic crusade that’s right up there with “we will disarm Saddam Hussein” for absurd up-is-down-ism.
The historical view of this era is going to be incredulous — if we don’t kill the planet in the meantime because of this nonsense.