Does The Press Matter?

Krugman writes:

If so, the campaign has just taken a major turn in Mr. Obama’s favor. After all, if this campaign isn’t dominated by faux outrage over fake scandals, it will have to be about things that really did happen, like a failed economic policy and a disastrous war — both of which Mr. McCain promises will continue if he wins.

It's a good line. But of course if Democrats are really counting on responsible, substantive news coverage to hand them the election then John McCain has things in the bag. It's clear that the press, and thus the campaign as mediated by the press, will be dominated by some mix of fake scandals just as it always is (and if a fake scandal requires made up facts about Obama's record, then the facts shall be made up). The question is how much does this matter? Presumably it does matter at the margin.

And I think most of us liberals are pretty traumatized by the 2000 election when the press coverage was willfully horrible and things that made a difference at the margin turned out to be hugely important. But I find it hard to believe that, in general, the overall tenor of the media's coverage of silly campaign stories has a huge impact on election outcomes. Indeed, that's probably one reason why the quality is so low -- the stories are being produced by people who don't really think their work matters

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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