Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Rule of Two

Generally speaking, news organizations like head-to-head match-ups, since they are less expensive to cover than multi-candidate field races. This is especially true at TV networks, where the cost of having a crew on four or five campaigns is, eventually, prohibitive.

So a major media bias is to reduce the size of the field, which is done by cutting off oxygen (coverage) to lagging candidates (thus the importance of polls). The front page of today's New York Times is a perfect example of this bias. The headline is "A Shuffled Democratic Deck Arrives in New Hampshire." The subheads are: "Kerry is Confident" and "Dean is Subdued."

Bad day for Mssrs. Lieberman, Clark and Edwards. The networks will pick up on the NYT theme (two-man race between Kerry and Dean) and organize their coverage accordingly. Oxygen denied to Joe Lieberman, Wes Clark and John Edwards for one important day. That's how the real winnowing process works.