‘Nothing Burgers’: Why Pretend Campaign Announcements are News?

By Mark Joyella 

Like most Americans, you were almost certainly stunned by the breaking news that swept cable TV Sunday: Hillary Clinton, out of nowhere, announced she is running for president. Who could have seen that coming?

And yet, Clinton’s announcement–like those of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio–was treated as “breaking news.” Not only did Clinton’s announcement not “break,” much of Sunday’s news coverage revolved around waiting for it to happen.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 4.40.32 PMJust before noon on Monday, CNN had a banner that read, “19 year old talks to Clinton at gas station.” It’s going to be a long campaign.

As Mark Leibovich puts it in The New York Times, “we have entered peak ‘announcement’ season. One after another, candidates for president who have in practice been candidates for president for several months, and in some cases years, are announcing that, yes, they will really be candidates for president. And the media will treat these as noteworthy, or overkill-worthy, developments.”

And there are many more to come. How could cable news do a better job of covering what’s important without wasting so much time covering the stuff that isn’t?

Treating these choreographed exercises as the nothing burgers they are would be a start. Even if we must pantomime the motions of reporting the “news,” it would be nice not to insult the intelligence of readers and viewers who have been watching these people run for president for a long time already.