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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Presidential rhetoric: What we expect and what is not being said, and how it may be impacting our perception of what is news.

Missing this presidential year: climate change. The over riding interests in the economy and energy self sufficiency have upstaged it.

We have a media that is more interested in the overall story and creating a horse race or a ballgame instead of intellectual dialogue and honest reporting. 

The "tie" is based on national polls that do not reflect accurately on the country, much less the outcome of an Electoral College Based race. 

By reporting a horse race the media is actually bringing voters closer to voting on a tie or electing the challenger than would be the case if they were "fair and balanced" in their representation. Remember the media depends on advertising, based on distribution, six minute ratings sweeps and on increasing what advertisers say is the crucial 18 to 40 age group.

Media uses "interpretive journalism" where a commentator or journalist summarise the candidate with their own voice and with their own bias. In the "golden age" of journalism people would watch full debates, full speeches and "sound bites" were one to three minutes" instead of being measured in seconds.

Neutral organizations have determined that the media, overall, is slightly conservative, that NRP is slightly conservative, that FOX is far right and that most newspapers slant conservative. 50 years of academic research of patrician bias in academia disproves a patrician bias overall in the media. 

Still today's media tells us what to expect, shows us what they want, and tells us what we heard or "need to understand" in short bites, videos or increasingly shorter articles in lower level of reading expectations.

So the media and the people may have come to expect less of candidates, know less about the universe of what is going on and the factors involved, and look for single party, single issue or simply personality when they choose to vote. They are not digging into issues as in the past, and when they do often seek information that already agrees with their bias and pre-chosen candidate.

Newspapers and media are starting to endorse President Obama over former Governor Mitt Romney. There is one theory that while media is presenting a horse rave or sporting event, the reality of the electoral college means that they can gain by backing the right "horse". And their coverage of candidates may shift as we approach closer to the election as ratings takes a back seat to good will and maintaining the flow of a known government.

Jobs, energy Independence and the debt have successfully been brought to the front by the media, whether it reflects America or are issues that can be incendiary and divisive enough to drive ratings, sales and advertising.

Total debt to GDP is coming down and no where near as is implied by stating raw debt numbers, and in effect is far from a record in percentage, which is the key number not the total. Companies are not borrowing at today's low interest rates to reinvest in the economy, which carries far more power than whomever is in congress or the presidency. So the emphasis on our debt and the debt "cliff" are dramatic campaign year exaggerations. Yes, it needs to be addressed, but not urgently. No president can reduce the debt. It takes the increased prosperity only investing in American can bring, coupled with a long term commitment by the entity that sets the budget, specifically the House of Representatives and by extension the full Congress. Presidents administer but do not dictate. We do not live in a wave the magic want dictatorship

Presidents cannot control the economy. The legislative office has more power, but remains relatively weak. The truth is that the Chief Executive is not an Economic Czar. They cannot directly impact international factors that cause economic change. They cannot control the large international corporations (including American corporations who do business around the world) that at least have a small impact on the overall economy. They cannot undo the realities of the Great Recession or the artificial boom periods that proceeded it.

Energy is international in nature. The US and Canada export oil, together the second largest oil exporting  region in the world. We sell energy to other countries so how is there a shortage? Well, to the candidates it is an issue. The oil from the proposed new pipeline from Canada is headed, for the most part, to China, from US ports.

Only 43% of Republicans say climate change "may" be happening and only 60% of Americans (less than 30% of self identified Christians), yet it is a reality, directly tied to energy production, and in terms of international treaties, falls squarely in the hands of the president. It  was mentioned only once and by President Obama in a speech, not in a debate.

Not mentioned in debates and speeches so far: the state of our very large neighbor to the south. 60,000 Mexicans, or close to the number of Americans who dies in Viet Nam and twice the number who have died in Syria, have died in the Mexican drug war. Civil society, law enforcement and public safety in our neighboring Mexico are eroding. American care first about Americans, then in far off wars where US troops are known to be involved. Yet we are not on the ground in Syria and we are on the ground, as support, in Mexico)

-Art Lynch

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Marketplace Money, NPR, CNBC, New York Times.

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