America is way deep into the presidential race, and the party conventions are fast approaching. Democrats gather in Milwaukee on August 17 and Republican start theirs a week later.

In the coming weeks, the media will produce an ocean of purple prose on these Cow Palace jamborees. If the past is prologue, much of the media coverage will be dreck. Why this is so is illuminated by Joan Didion’s clear-eyed essay, “Insider Baseball” (1988).

Partially, it is a product of the conventions being a multi-day hooplas where the end is preordained. They are, as Jay Cost notes, “spectacles,” shows scripted for producing narratives. Additionally, It is not easy to fill great chasms of air time and column space when so much of what is happening is unremarkable: various hyper partisan individuals mulling about with one another while waiting for some political figure to take the stage to gas bag — often at painful lengths — about the evils of the other party’s nominee and the gloriousness of the home team’s pick. Making such bland fare appealing to any viewers and readers necessitates that politicos and media alike contrive excitement. Even their most successful efforts — think Pat Buchanan’s culture war speech — fail to attract notice beyond the elite political class, the very small percentage of the population who pays any attention….(Read more)



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Kevin R Kosar

Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC. My books: Congress Overwhelmed (2020) and… See