A Little Bit Louder Now (Shout)

The Presidential Campaign as Experienced on Cable News over the past 24 hours (though it’s not just cable and it’s not just these 24 hours or even this election) is reminding me of this fifth grade schoolyard shouting match:

You’re fat!
You’re ugly - and I can diet!
You’re stupid - and I can get plastic surgery!
You’re a loser - and I have a tutor!
Takes one to know one - and, you smell!
He who smelt it dealt it…

Except that instead of two kids in fifth grade facing off we have some confusing scrum of campaign surrogates, newspaper columnists, cable news “strategists,” cable news anchors and assorted others all shouting into (and often repeating one another) the Election Echo Chamber. (And, yeah, instead of someone’s reputation as Awesomest Fifth Grader being in the balance it’s…what, America’s future?)

McCain’s negative!
Obama’s presumptuous!
Grumpy old man!

And each jibe is typically treated by the campaign press more or less like its predecessor (The Latest Attack! Opposing Camp Responds!), the focus remaining on the strategy and potential efficacy and the ensuing back-and-forth (with the occasional “ad watch” piece or thoughtful analysis attempting to help readers locate the truth or something true or some bigger picture therein).

And if you think the old “I’m rubber, you’re glue” riposte can be The Stopper in this shouting match that it was back in fifth grade, think again. Because Jack Shafer already called “rubber” for Obama yesterday morning (CJR considered this back in Febuary). And the shouting goes on…

…Morphing, even, yesterday afternoon into a cable news face-off (Democratic strategist v. Republican strategist) purportedly over Which Candidate Is More “Rubber” (set up by MSNBC’s David Shuster thusly: “Is this the year when nothing sticks to either candidate?”).

Maybe we can argue over that for a while? Who’s more Teflon?

Candidate A is Teflon!
No, candidate B is Teflon!
Well, Teflon’s a carcinogen!
No, Teflon is a “likely” carcinogen….

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.