Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone is bemoaning the state of our political coverage -- now more than ever, he says, politics is trivialized by Twitter. Can we mourn, too, the state of Michael Calderone's media criticism?
"Political junkies, political operatives, and political reporters consume most of this dross, and in this accelerated, 24/7 news cycle, a day feels like a week, with the afternoon's agreed-upon media narrative getting turned on its head by the evening's debate," Calderone writes for the Huffington Post. Worse, he says, the Twitter ephemera has nothing to do with the way real Americans live: "While the national press couldn't resist helping the campaigns lob their shots at one another, it paid considerably less attention to how the economic crisis has damaged Nevada, a state with the dubious distinction of leading the nation in unemployment, foreclosure filings, and underwater mortgages." And yet mere pixels away from his story, the Huffington Post advertises what it thinks you would rather read. It is not the foreclosure crisis. It is: Puppy Bowl highlights, the Twitter-fueled Komen foundation controversy, M.I.A. brandishing the middle finger.
A quick scan of the Huffington Post's political coverage reveals a whole bunch of Twitter- and quote-of-the-day-based stories. Here are the top 15 headlines from the center column on the site's politics page:
- MAKE OR BREAK' UNUSUALLY VOLATILE' RACE IN THREE STATES.. LIVE UPDATES
- White House Tries To Explain Obama's 'Evolving' View On Gay Marriage
- Santorum Bemoans Obama 'Poppycock' PLUS: 'Varmints' Attack.. Newt's Prediction For Romney.. Candidate's Last Stand?.. LIVE UPDATES
- Kucinich Slams 'Offensive' Super Bowl Ad
- Karl Rove Linked To Obama's Surprising Reversal
- Komen VP Breaks Her Silence
- Controversial China Ad Sparks Democratic Counterattack
- McCain Sounds Warning
- Governor Wants To Drug Test Miners
- Ben Quayle Faces Trouble On The Right
- Boehner Sounds Off On Obama's 'Broken Promise'
- Conservative Pundit Makes Startling Birth Control Remark
- Politicians React To Prop 8 Ruling
- Obama Girl Ready To Change Sides?
- Ron Paul Gets Glitter Bombed
Only one of the 15 -- the one about Obama's gay marriage position -- comes close to meeting Calderone's standards, and even that one is more about the different ways Obama has tried to signal he likes gay folks without committing to support gay marriage than it is about gay marriage. Then there's Huffington Post's own sidebar, which shows that it's the Twittery stuff people want to read. (We've pointed to the semi-political ones with arrows.) The second page of "most popular" stories shows a few more political posts.
Most amusingly, attached to Calderone's essay is a 16-page slideshow. A slideshow! The most notorious love-hated clickbait trick in online journalism, after putting some tween celebrity's name in the headline!
To be sure, reading Twitter-based political news can be torturous. Surely no one in America really cares about that one time Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich went to the same restaurant on the same day, a story whose absurdity Calderone captures. But still. People who live in glass houses (and deposit Twitter-fueled paychecks) shouldn't throw (anti-Twitter) stones.