TVNewser’s Alex Weprin expertly dismantles Howard Kurtz’s near fantasy world observation that TV news isn’t covering the 2012 campaign enough. Come again?
Kurtz’s evidence for declining political coverage? Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity had the gall to cover non-election stories on Tuesday, when the Illinois primary was held, while Ed Schultz dared to cover the Trayvon Martin shooting (Half his program, Kurtz notes). Among the network morning shows, neither ABC nor NBC made the election one of its top three stories. The nerve!
Why is that argument so flimsy?
O’Reilly, Hannity and Schultz all covered the election Tuesday night (see screengrabs from Tuesday above), with O’Reilly and Hannity even leading their shows with the Illinois primary. What Kurtz’s complaint boils down to is that the hosts didn’t dedicate their entire hours to it. As for the morning shows, CBS made it the top story, but that didn’t fit Kurtz’s narrative, so he left that little tidbit out. NBC and ABC also covered it, just not quick enough, apparently.
I’ll pile on now because this deserves to be rubbished. More Kurtz…
None of this is coincidental. At the cable news networks, including CNN, the only one to provide continuous primary coverage on Tuesday, the word is out that the presidential campaign is sending the ratings south.
Television, in short, has pretty much decided the race is over, Mitt Romney has won, the thing is boring everyone to death, and it’s time, at least for now, to move on. The campaign is occupying less front-page real estate in the major papers as well.
I see, at least on cable news, ad nauseam 2012 campaign coverage. If anything Kurtz’s praising of CNN being the only network to go wall to wall Tuesday night could be reversed and argued that CNN was the only network to go overboard on Tuesday night and spend too much time on a story that because of the limited number of primaries that night was going to be stretched out big time with a lot of filler to occupy the network when nothing was really going on. And since the networks projected Romney early that killed whatever drama the night was going to produce. So in that sense MSNBC’s and FNC’s coverage was proportional to the night and CNN went off the deep end.
If Kurtz has been paying attention he knows this isn’t the first time this GOP primary season that the networks have throttled it back based on the number of primaries that are taking place that night. So last Tuesday’s shift wasn’t a new direction for cable news primary coverage but a continuation of a pattern already established where the number of primaries taking place and the number of delegates in play has a direct relationship on the amount of coverage that some networks devote to them.
I don’t know where Kurtz is getting the idea that coverage has severly diminished. Every morning I see the cable channels talk about the Romney/Santorum battles with occasional references to Gingrich. There is not a dearth of coverage on cable. There may be elsewhere but I don’t write about elsewhere. The only things that have pushed Campaign 2012 back a bit are Sargent Robert Bales massacre and Trayvon Martin. What does Kurtz want? The networks to push those stories further down their rundowns to give more time to Campaign 2012?
I agree with Kurtz that Romney’s delegate count has drained the race of drama to some extent. But the candidates are still stumping and cable news, because it is incapable of using a self-barometer to gauge what to talk about and what not to talk about so it winds up talking about nearly every little thing in politics in general and Campaign 2012 in particular, is still covering the soundbites.