Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Why Moderates Don't Get News Coverage

I've asked the question in several places why the Moderate movements isn't getting more press coverage, even though the majority of voters now state they don't align with the extreme voices in the major parties.  If the centrist view -- or at least the non-extreme view -- is beginning to catch on among rank-and-file voters, why isn't there more coverage?

After extensive consideration, the answer may be Reality TV  There is a reason why reality television shows don't ever show rational, emotionally healthy behaving like civilized adults:  because ratings would plummet.  We've all read the stories about how show-runners try to stir up emotions and goad participants into tirades and difficult situations, then edit out anything that doesn't bring a dramatic climax and/or fist-fight.

This is not to say that reality TV is necessarily to blame, but is definitely an indicator of our current situation.

There is a little-known reality cooking show called Top Chef Master, which -- in its first couple of seasons, at least -- featured mature, experienced chefs.  It was one of the very few shows I watched, because the show featured grown-ups collaborating and competing at the same time, helping each other out, and communicating with professionalism and courtesy. It was thoroughly refreshing.

Having cut the cord a couple of years ago, interest in TV in general has been lost for me.  Looking for the show online, its not on the network's main menu anymore.  Meanwhile, there are still 8.. EIGHT Real Housewives shows. While I don't watch much TV anymore, I read extensively from a variety of news sites, and from the growing number of moderate opinion sites, from which I get my media information, and hence draw these conclusions.

The 24-hour cable news industry is dominated by the need for viewership.  That's why Trump gets exponential coverage on cable news compared to Sanders.  Like him or hate him, Trump gets viewers, and the cable news networks know it.  So when imagining Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow, or especially any Fox News parrot, trying to interview a Moderate advocate, one can hear the sound of thousands of remotes clicking..

The fact is, moderate and centrist dialogue isn't good for ratings, because to really get to the heart of any centrist-moderate-independent policy issue requires details, facts, data, explanation, depth, and most of all, t-i-m-e, with absolutely no taglines or slogans.  We don't use three-syllable slogans to outline our views -- "tax and spend," "cut and run," etc. -- which doesn't translate into the riveting TV that networks strive for.  Most cable news segments are just a couple of minutes, and even the Sunday morning news shows have to offer some draw, despite the lowered volume of the dialogue.

Imagine a moderate-centrist "McLaughlin Group" type of show, where someone says, in a civil tone, "I'm not sure I agree with that view, and I ask your indulgence to explain why."  Would this show ever, e-v-e-r get air time?

Most voters seem to want easy options and solutions.  Don't burden them with too many policy options for any particular issue, and by all means do not attempt to discuss the full range of issues a President, or Senator, or Congressional Representative really has to deal with.

Take foreign policy for example.  Most voters don't want to consider that maintaining good relations with other nations, even our closest partners, is incredibly complex, requiring depth of knowledge, ability to discern nuance, cultural sensitivity, firm grasp of international law -- and numerous other areas of understanding.  The current batch of GOP presidential candidates want to say, "All we need to do is __________."  This is simplistic approaching idiocy, but these types of statements resonate with the people they are attempting to attract.

They are simple, they are black and white, they are "us versus them."  And too many voters want that.  But there is hope.  There is a growing number of internet content dedicated to moderate-centrist politics and dialogue.  There are a growing number of Twitter tweeters sharing articles and updates.  And there is growing data showing more voters are leaving the two major parties and seeking an alternative.

This blog discussed before the need for a centrist party, but also of the difficulty of attempting to meld a huge number of disparate, but respectful, viewpoints into a single party platform.  I've suggested we might need a charismatic and eloquent voice to lead the movement.  Upon further review, I'm not sure anymore.  I like that we are so diverse in opinion, and can share differing views. But then again, I don't watch reality TV.

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