Friday, September 16, 2016

Opportunity squandered

I have talked before about how little coverage policy differences between the Presidential candidates have gotten in this election. But this week there was actually potential for policy to come to the fore. The Trump campaign tried to roll out an actual policy proposal, paid family leave. Of course, his proposal was both half of what Clinton had already proposed, and pretty half-assed in that the funding component made no sense.

But hey, we actually had two competing proposals! The press finally has the chance to dig into each one and people can debate about the relative merits of each! We finally had the opportunity to have a substantive policy debate relating to this election, about a real issue that could affect the lives of actual Americans.

Yet it is already clear that is not going to happen. The Trump side is completely unwilling to have a substantive policy debate and effectively shut down any chance for a debate by denying that Clinton had a paid family leave proposal. The media could have pressed the Trump camp on that easily refutable claim, and they still can, but they won't. Instead we have a big spotlight on whether Trump is still a birther, his latest bullshit dodge on releasing medical records, and his substance-free appearance on a late night talk show. I don't understand why those things are so much more attractive to the news media than what is supposedly their purpose of informing the public about real issues. But there's no question that they are.