4 Most Idiotic Election 2016 Stories So Far
With the kickoffs of the Cruz, Paul and Clinton campaigns, political journalists have launched their own campaign: 20 months of obsessive coverage of the race from every possible angle.
While some of this coverage has been excellent (for example, David Sirota's recent scoop on Jeb Bush funneling pension money to his brother's fundraisers), we've also seen a lot of clunkers focusing on the most trivial details of candidates' personal lives or banal activities on the campaign trail. Here are some of the worst offenders so far.
1. The Hidden Hand of Chelsea Clinton
Politico's lead investigative reporter Ken Vogel devoted a long magazine piece to “the shadowy role of Hillary's most important adviser”— her daughter, Chelsea. Chelsea's hidden influence includes interventions like the following, from the 2008 campaign trail:
During an off-the-record gathering in a Philadelphia hotel bar, the mother-daughter team held court with the campaign press corps. Riding high in Keystone State polls, the candidate was upbeat. Holding a cocktail in one hand while eating nachos with the other, she regaled the assembled reporters with a riff about the physically intimidating presence of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. In mid-story, her daughter gently touched her forearm and shot her a disapproving look. The message seemed to be that Hillary should stop talking while eating, and she abruptly did. Reporters later marveled at how unquestioningly the powerful mother deferred when corrected by her daughter.
2. Rand Paul's Inability to Be Consistent Is a Strength
The Week's Marc Ambinder argued that Paul's inability to nail down concrete positions on policy issues is not a reason for voters to distrust him, but is instead a strength:
His value to Republicans is that his final position on a number of issues cannot be predicted from his past statements. This is valuable, and not a knock against him, because his unpredictability will force the rest of the field to respond in real time to a politician who seems willing to change his mind.
3. Every Detail of Hillary Clinton's Road Tour Must Be Reported in Painstaking Detail: Soon after her announcement, Clinton decided to take a road trip to meet with voters. To the press corps, this has been an opportunity to report on her every banal move with incredible detail. There were dozens of articles about her stopping at a Chipotle in Ohio, and the same security camera footage of Clinton ordering a chicken burrito bowl found its way into report after report. The press has cheerfully dubbed her van the “Scooby Van”; here's footage of scores of reporters chasing the van as a single MSNBC writer, Alex Seitz-Wald, stood his ground.
4. Check Out Marco Rubio's Cheerleader Wife: There have been no less than nine articles written about Marco Rubio's wife, Jeanette, none of them focusing on her policy worldview or anything remotely in the public interest. One topic the articles seemed to focus on is the fact that she is a former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins.
The presidential race is perhaps the nation's most consequential election. The person elected to the White House will have control of the nuclear arsenal, vetoes over congressional legislation and the ability to nominate Supreme Court justices. Yet despite the vast importance of this decision, the press seems to consistently fail at serious coverage, opting instead to discuss the most trivial details.