The underlying problem—and the biggest reason that gaffes are perpetually hyped by the media in the absence of evidence that they matter to voters—is that, despite all the cutbacks in journalism, too many reporters are chasing too few stories at this point in the presidential campaign. The incentives for perverse coverage are especially strong when little other news is being made. Editors should consider alternative approaches. Why not devote more resources to investigations, enterprise stories, and down-ballot races, and reduce the number of reporters covering the minutiae of the presidential campaign? We, the readers, will be just fine without them.

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Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at brendan-nyhan.com and tweets @BrendanNyhan.