“Fake news” is a popular pejorative, but fake news has been with us for a very long time. Let me talk about a form of fake news that has been our companion for decades.
I think opinion polls are fake news. Yes, it is mildly interesting that Candidate A is favored by a greater percentage of people likely to vote 90 days from now. But “if the election were held today,” a lot of people would be caught off guard because the only poll that actually counts is 90 days from now.
It would be vastly more valuable to report on what Candidates A, B and C believe about the issues they will face if elected.
I would dearly love to know the political philosophies that would inform the actions of Candidates A or B or C as they decide how to vote on a particular bill, or what particular bills they want to introduce should they get the chance. It would be a far more productive use of the time or space that is now devoted to phony opinion polls.
But elections are not about ideas and philosophies. They are about strategies for beating down adversaries. News people have become sportscasters and entertainers. Who’s winning? How does the second-place competitor overcome his opponent’s lead? Can the leader play strong enough defense to protect her lead?
The 30-second spot is all the bite we will get from the apple of knowledge regarding who the competitors are. And buried under all the commotion and kerfuffle is a 30-second spot with people singing, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony …”