Monday, August 25

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Chris Lehmann, CQ
- Imagine if you were covering the baseball playoffs and you wrote that there was massive speculation about who was going to win. It’s manifestly moronic because you’re writing about a scheduled event that is going to take place on a known timeline. You’re contributing nothing. It’s the opposite of news; any useful public information is entirely missing. But that’s the way the press bubble operates. Not only do reporters write about what they’re talking about, but they’re writing about each other. Notice the passive construction in these stories about “rampant speculation” and ask yourself, “Who’s doing the speculating?” It’s the reporters who are; most voters, being sane people, might think about it for a second but then they move on to the next thing in their day. . .

I have friends who have elaborate conspiracy theories about the coverage, and how the media is leaning one way or the other. In my darker moments I find myself wishing the press were cunning enough to do that. But it’s more like sports journalism or, to use that tired cliche, the horse race mentality. If you’re a cable news director, you’re just not going to devote ten minutes to a major address about the subprime crisis, but if John Edwards confesses to an extramarital affair, even though he’s not even a candidate and holds no public office, it will lead to an orgy of coverage. Market share dictates the witless coverage, which is largely for the media’s own amusement. You see that all the time on the Sunday political chat shows, which are always about the polls and who is performing better in strategic terms. . . I have family around the country and we always talk politics, and no one ever asks me, “How did Obama perform on his European tour?” It’s an asinine question. . .

Engadget
- For years, Diebold has embarrassed itself by claiming that obvious faults were actually not faults at all, and during the past decade or so, it mastered the act of pointing the finger. Now that it has ironically renamed itself Premier Election Solutions, it's finally coming clean. According to spokesman Chris Riggall, a "critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point" has been part of the software for ten years. The flaw is on both optical scan and touchscreen machines, and while Mr. Riggall asserts that the logic error probably didn't ruin any elections (speaking of logic error), the outfit's president has confessed to being "distressed" about the ordeal. More like "distressed" about the increasingly bleak future of his company.

Valley Wag - Sen. Biden's son Beau, the attorney general of Delaware, is a captain in the Army National Guard, and is set to be deployed to Iraq in the fall.

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