Monday, July 14, 2008

Breaking point for the media?

Two events from the presidential campaign trail this past week make one wonder if we are nearing a breaking point for the media in politics.

The New Yorker magazine ran a controversial cartoon cover depicting Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, fulfilling various stereotypes of the candidate perpetuated by some of his more vociferous opponents. The cover drew criticism from both presidential campaigns and those who said the cover, intended as a satire, will only serve to reinforce the stereotypes.

Sen. John McCain, whose surrogate was recently quoted referring to America as "a nation of whiners" in terms of the economy, lamented the need to "feed the beast". The beast he was referring to, of course, is the 24/7 cable news media cycle. McCain told the New York Times, “We are in a situation today where all words are parsed, all comments are diagnosed and looked at for whatever effect they might have.”

Has the media overdone it with respect to covering presidential politics? Is the public becoming more wary of the media in general? If so, what effect, if any, could that have on how the public views media coverage of other governmental and political institutions, including state legislatures?

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