And what do we get in return for acting as candidates’ megaphones—and, for that matter, for incentivizing salaciousness? We basically write ourselves—or air ourselves, as it were—out of the equation.

Nowhere was this on more display than last night, when the analyses of the Obamamercial added precious little value. There’s a role for the press to play, of course, in parsing the candidates’ other direct-democracy appearances—the conventions and the debates—as there’s relatively more substance to discuss in each case. But noting a commercial’s production value and tone and narrative may be a fun little intellectual exercise for journalists; for everyone else, though, it’s pretty much a waste of time.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.