The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism offers “The State of the News Media” and, surprise, it’s not too kind. The Center for American Progress breaks down the report here. If this isn’t sad, then I don’t know what is:
According to the report, obsessive, often irrelevant horserace coverage of the election eclipsed all other news. It accounted for 59 percent of the cable newshole in 2008, while coverage of the economy accounted for only 10 percent. (That number is opposed to 36 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in the media over all.) Meanwhile, coverage of Iraq War fell everywhere, but it positively crashed on cable. Cable coverage of Iraq fell nearly 90 percent, and, shamefully, it accounted for just 2 percent of overall coverage.
This dynamic was at work on Tuesday night during President Obama’s press conference. CNN’s Ed Henry tried to goad Obama into a cable-style contretemps, demanding to know:
“Why is it that it seems Andrew Cuomo seems to be, in New York, getting more actual action on it? And when you and Secretary Geithner first learned about this, 10 days, two weeks ago, you didn’t go public immediately with that outrage. You waited a few days, and then you went public after you realized Secretary Geithner really had no legal avenue to stop it.”
Henry was so excited by this prospect, he used his follow-up to repeat himself: “Why did you wait—why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage? It seems like the action is coming out of New York in the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we’re outraged. Why did it take so long?”
Obama offered up just about the most un-cable news sentence anyone could possibly utter: [B]ecause I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”