Writing at Salon, AlterNet’s Marty Kaplan accuses the news networks of “treating news as entertainment,” and specifically trying to make politics into a personality-driven soap opera:
It’s in the economic self-interest of the news media to make politics as fun as wrestling and as risky as a high-wire act. That’s what drives ratings. But we pay a steep price for the pleasures of circus and spectacle.
The price, Kaplan suggests, is a public that’s truly informed. Treating politics as entertaining spectacle means, like a soap opera, never being too far away from crisis and conflict. The story requires drama far more than informative discussion of issues. “In this way, every dispute, even over matters of fact, becomes a contest of power – loudest, best funded, most persistent voices win,” Kaplan writes.