Our politics is about nothing at all!

TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2012

The Post reports no gaffes: Last Saturday night, a debate took place in Virginia.

It was a fairly major debate, involving two Senate hopefuls. As you may know, this is one the biggest Senate races in the nation.

On Sunday morning, the Washington Post reported this great debate. It was the featured report at the top of page one of the Metro section.

Tim Kaine and George Allen are big major players. These were the headlines in the hard-copy Washington Post:
Allen, Kaine spar in debate
Race for Va. Senate seat extremely tight
What was the first thing you learned in those headlines? Neither guy made any gaffes!

In a triple headline, you learned about gaffes—after which, you learned about polls. Our politics is about nothing at all!

At long last, the Post has confirmed this.

For the full news report: For the full news report, click here. We’ve recorded the headlines which appeared in Sunday’s hard-copy Post.


  1. Is WaPo's headline is self-referential? Recall that they caused George Allen to lose his last race by making the word "macaca" the central aspect of that campaign. Today's headline may have been ruing the fact that this debate didn't produce a comparable gaffe that they could use against Allen.

  2. Existential question-- If there is a debate with no gaffes, does the event exist?

  3. In my youth I dreamed of becoming a journalist. The lessons in journalism, I received, caused me to believe that journalists were the truth tellers, the realists, the street wise or worldly and highly skeptical analytical observers for the people. Since humans are generally subjective in nature the battle against bias was objectified with a proscribed structure that artificially distanced the reporter from the subject. The structure included where in an article of a number of column inches expected information would be imparted. A reader could choose to read the first, second and last paragraph of an article and know the pertinent facts. If background or perspective needed to be understood then a reader could read the remaining paragraphs.

    Knowing the structure of journalistic writing was a requirement to pass. Several demonstrations of competence with the structure were expected. Other styles of writing were not applicable to a news organization that prided itself on its independence from influence and interference. Although, the level of grammar expected for an article was ninth grade, within that limitation the reporter was expected to communicate with the widest audience. This was not a perspective born of disrespect, but a tool that compressed time to better serve the news consumer.

    Journalism had certain expectations that confirmed the validity of facts before going to print. A news organization's relationship with its consumers was a credo that conceptualized confidence in stories to be the basis of reputation and engagement. Reporters were not respected for their writing style because of the formal and predictable nature shared by those in the profession.

    Modern news organizations are more concerned with image and marketability; therefore the profession suffers at least two damaging methods, a manipulative style that serves an insider consensus perspective, and the intent to mislead its consumers. The method is an insult to consumers of the product and no matter how cheap the purchase price, it is too high for the misinformation imparted.

    Popular journalists with a by-line were paid in a range equivalent to that of unskilled to skilled labor depending on experience. Therefore, the threat of losing one's calling did not have a disturbing level of threat since one could survive at the same level as an average middle class employee. There was no loss of status, because of shared vulnerability.

    The pay for the most popular infotainment personalities is manipulative in its scale. How persuasive is an income in the economic upper two percent? What will a top reporter do for the opportunity to hobnob with with his or her betters? Almost instinctively, they report the news in a manner intended to please an unfamiliar and influential upper class.

    Sadly, the previously mentioned state of affairs has become a commonly held concept about professional journalism, with the potential for its not too distant self-destruction unmitigated by reason or shame.

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