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Game On: Our Media Fostered Media Circus Moves North

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"GAME ON:" Our Media Fostered Political Circus Moves North 

By Danny Schechter, Author of The Crime Of Our Time

"Game On" was Rick Santorum's first comment after his "surge" was considered successful with a mere 30,000 votes in Ioway. He inadvertently gave the game away by calling it a game--which is what it is.

Only this game is not just about politics but about the media. Pseudo   events like this are what the media lives for: it provides something   for them to do, and to feel important while doing it. It creates airtime for endless punditry, and a spectacle to liven up a dull Iowa winter.

For Iowans, it's chance to "participate" in something that sounds important; for media heads it's a news routine, a ritual. The media, in effect, provides an infomercial posing as real news.

Yet throughout the weeks of endless around the clock "coverage," including polling, and analyzing TV ads there's barely a mention about how the media benefits by creating a phony sense of excitement while generating revenues from the money spent on the endless ads, like the $17 million Rick Perry invested in his run to nowhere. (How much do you think each vote cost.)

Chris Crawford makes some points picked up on Undernews that were buried, if reported at all.

1. Caucuses don't even pick binding convention delegates.
2. The winner's raw vote total would fill one fourth of an NFL stadium.
3. Only 100,000 of the state's 3 million residents participate.
4. Presidents Gephardt, Huckabee, Harkin, Robertson.
5. Saying its worth is "winnowing" the field is like the family dog eating table scraps.
6. The winner gets maybe six unbound delegates out of more than 1,100 needed for the nomination.
7. Iowa has five times more hogs than people.

The media analysts who examined the coverage revealed that it was more about the horse race than any real debate about issues

The Project on Excellence in Politics reported, "the news media were most focused on the shifting horse race that foreshadowed Rick Santorum's strong late showing, according to a PEJ analysis of the leading themes in the Iowa press narrative".

"This report, which is based on a sample of more than 11,500 news web sites, found that the horse race elements--such as strategy, momentum and polls--represented the leading theme (27%) in the coverage of the volatile Iowa contest. That was followed by coverage of the candidate's records and issue positions (19%) and then by attention to the Iowa caucus system itself (16%). Coverage of the concerns and activities of the Iowa voters trailed well behind, at 6%."

Many media outlets pointed out the irrelevance of the Iowa circus but they covered it anyway as if it mattered, thus giving it an importance by its visibility that many of its gutless analysts acknowledged was a farce, while calling themselves journalists and hyping it anyway.

Writes media critics Marvin Kitman, "Basically, the format of the event, which is not even a primary, is comparable to the number of people who showed up at a Politburo meeting in the old days of limited democracy in the USSR

Like Leninist democracy, the Iowa Caucus is based on the principle of democratic centralism, in which smaller groups get together to elect bigger groups. It's a cross between voting in an actual primary and the great American tradition of selecting candidates in smoke-filled rooms before a convention.

Actually, the Iowa Caucus is less democratic than the Politburo election since it disenfranchises so many eligible voters: people who work on Tuesday nights; folks who can't afford a baby sitter; those away fighting our county's battles on foreign shores; people out of town on business, or afraid of the dark. Whatever reason, only 80,000 or so people will bother to register their choice."

Now, it's on to New Hampshire for more of the same with a smaller crew of gamers still standing. Bachman is gone and Perry is posturing and Gingrich has been "newted' by voter disgust. Huntsman still has some of his daddy's money to spread around.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.
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