“It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” Richard Fernandez writes tonight at the Belmont Club. Much to the chagrin of those who make the sausage, “the news has hijacked the news cycle:”
To appreciate how much this hurts it’s important to remember that the media’s greatest power is its ability to set the public agenda. Ever since 1968 it has jealously guarded the power to both determine what the public talks about (the agenda) and how it is discussed (framing). Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) is complaining that they can’t do that in these elections because ISIS, Ebola, Ukraine, etc. are taking over the headlines in the way that disease is overrunning West Africa.
By this time in the election cycle, the public should have been awash with stories about how a poor, minimum wage worker at Walmart has lost her health insurance due to corporate greed and why that greed has is leading America closer to single payer. Everyone should now be focusing on how the resurgent economy would be trending on Twitter were it not for the sabotage of conservative news outlets — paid for by the Koch brothers.
Instead what is trending are stories like ‘War against Isis: US strategy in tatters as militants march on‘ or ‘Despite airstrikes, ISIS forces draw nearer to Baghdad‘. Or ‘Texas health worker becomes first person to contract Ebola in U.S.‘ The horror, the horror.
As MSNBC noted, the public instead of talking about the real issues, is talking about Ebola, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Ukraine, etc. It’s a fine kettle of fish when media consultants find the news revolting. An uprising of the facts is making the management of the news cycle impossible.
Glenn Reynolds conjectured that the president would do only just enough against ISIS to tide him over the elections. This is classic news cycle management. Unfortunately, his calculations are being upset by a race condition, which as programmers who read this site already know, is what happens when events do not happen in the order intended. An unexpected development ‘races’ ahead to upset the apple-cart. It grabs the news cycle by the nose-ring and leads it around.
As the aforementioned Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.
Related: So how is the president keeping track of all of the horrific stories in the headlines, and all of the overtime work by the military in the Middle East, the CDC, the Obamacare Web developers, the IRS looking for new citizens to harass, riots in Ferguson to gin up, and all of the myriad other tasks of the federal government? Well, let’s just say that judging by his desk, the former president is not losing too much sleep over what he’s reading about in the newspapers…
Pres Obama getting phone update from HHS Secy Burwell on response to new Ebola diagnosis in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/LNFHnjG0jJ
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 12, 2014
Presumably, this is an official White House photo — and if the lack of set dressing is indication, it means that his PR team may be phoning it in these days nearly as much as Mr. Obama himself.