Former governor and probable presidential hopeful Jeb Bush calls them “the 20 people who talk to each other.”
You know, the folks who make their living in and around The Permanent Campaign. There’s an Internet site that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds from one election to the next. The political press refers to it often, as if it were important.
Fake newscaster John Oliver spoke for millions of fed-up, frustrated Americans recently when he told reporters he “couldn’t care less” about the 2016 presidential election:
“… I truly believe that the 2016 election is what the news likes to think about when it doesn’t want to think about anything. There’s no merit in it. Unless you’re in the same year as the thing you’re describing, it’s a complete waste of breath. It’s like a subject screensaver for the news. You know that if they’re saying, oh look, Jeb Bush is running, you know that’s the equivalent of just, nothing is happening in the newsroom, or we were tired! … I have no interest whatsoever in the 2016 election, at the start of 2015. There’s a time and a place for that, and it’s in 2016.”
That used to be the consensus view among publishers and news directors. But now, “… the race for the White House figures to be the most-covered, and perhaps the most over-covered, story of 2015. Major news organizations have all but made that official by engaging in an arms race of sorts to hire more political journalists. The staffing binge comes as many in the news media are cutting back in other areas,” Paul Farhi of The Washington Post reported this week.
“There are way more political writers than political news,” said one “prominent political editor” who was unwilling to be quoted by name. Fahri’s source said, “The bidding for reporters has driven up salaries, even for young and relatively unseasoned journalists. Some younger, promising reporters have received offers in excess of $150,000 a year, far more than they would have commanded just a few years ago … the salaries being kicked around are absurd.”
Many reporters would rather starve than abandon what’s left of the jobs in real reporting, but who can blame a person with a mortgage and a family for grabbing these lucrative political gigs? Pols, pollsters, P.R. people and others who are getting paid to get their names “out there” will supply the political press with a constant stream of “information” to be pored over like the Dead Sea scrolls among the clubby, insular, incestuous players in “the process.”
The hours are long, but more predictable than for reporters on less glamorous beats that involve meeting frightened whistleblowers in the ladies’ dressing room of a small town department store, or getting to know the voiceless populations of old people, sick people, abused and neglected people, in the neighborhoods — or war zones — where they live.
The “political-journalism boomlet” is a good thing for those who think that the 15-year-old jewelry purchases of a candidate’s wife shed meaningful light on the kind of president he’d make. For the rest of us, it’s just depressing.