(I’m very interested in American politics. This is a new blog, so you should know that though I plan on refraining from telling you why your political opinions are wrong and mine are right, I do plan on writing about trends I see in American politics and culture. Such as the following….)
The way our media covers American politics is one of the main problems in American politics, as the coverage of the Chris Christie bridge scandal makes clear.
This week, documents were published that show that top aides to the NJ Governor deliberately snarled traffic leading from the George Washington Bridge into Fort Lee, NJ. Christie denies any knowledge of their actions.
I’m not concerned with parsing out the truth of the scandal or in Governor Christie’s fitness for public office. Rather, I’m much more concerned with how the media has covered this and other political scandals: like spectators at a sporting event.
I’ve read very little coverage of the Christie scandal that addresses the morality of the issue, what it means when public officials use their official positions in unethical ways. Instead, almost all the coverage is interested in questions like:
- how will this hurt Governor Christie’s 2016 presidential chances?
- did Governor Christie respond quickly enough to diffuse the situation?
- was the tone that Governor Christie struck in his press conference the right one?
Notice that all these (and many other) angles on the story make the story about how the politician plays the game, not about the substance of the actions of the people involved. This tendency is not unique to this story, but is the way the American media covers modern politics.
As a citizen, I’m much less concerned with how our political representatives play the game and spin the story than in the substance of their actions. What about you?