Still, I have hopes and dreams that both paid media and free national media will decline in their power to shape elections. Raising the effective price of running a primary campaign using traditional means might force candidates to get creative about other ways of campaigning, particularly by creating and mobilizing volunteers. You can’t knock on every door in California, but your volunteers can.
A much worse problem than either free or paid media is the free media that results from paid media, ie when the Swift Boat Liars released their little smear campaign, and we had six weeks of nonsense about people needing to report baseless bullshit because it’s “out there” and “a phenomenon” or something. I can’t remember if the arguments were even that coherent. I was drinking a lot at the time. You buy a little airtime, run the commercial once in upstate New York, and the next thing you know it’s on CNN 24-7 and all they do is replay it while they discuss it.
(Now, most of that was my boyfriend John’s fault, for not coming out the same day and saying, “It’s a pack of fucking lies.” Had he done so, the story would have been a lot shorter and a lot fairer to him.)
I don’t know what could possibly be done about this other than vociferously challenging this kind of behavior, and making it a little more obvious to reporters that hello, you’re being played, pretend to care, okay? I don’t know that this is something that can be stopped.