Reading campaign coverage last week and today offers a very confusing lesson: 1) presidential debates don't matter, and 2) Mitt Romney's stellar debate performance is the greatest electoral coup since Dwight Eisenhower stuffed Adlai Stevenson into a gym locker.
You can see the media organizations straining so hard to let political scientists offer their conclusions about the relative importance of debates before bowing down before their one true God: the horse-race…
* "And if history is any guide, it may be folly to think the debates will turn matters around irrespective of the media attention and the parsing of every word and pregnant pause in Denver." - The Atlantic, 9/30/12 * "How is Obama's closing statement so fucking sad, confused and lame? He choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight." – Andrew Sullivan, 10/3/12
And one wonders where the journalists could have gotten the idea that debates don't matter…
"This election will not be decided by the debates, however. It will be decided by the American people." – Romney senior adviser Beth Myers, 9/27/12 "Governor Romney was the clear winner. If this were a boxing match, it would have been called by the referee. Someone should check the heels on President Obama's shoes. They're probably pretty worn down, because he just spent 90 minutes back on them." – Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, 10/3/12
But fortunately, some things never change. On MSNBC right now, the debates matter less than ever. On Fox News, debates are more critical than a sputtering nuclear reactor. And on CNN, the discussion is still about "nine wonderfully bizarre Christmas albums."
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Andrew Sullivan, CNN, Debates, Fox News, Media, Mitt Romney, MSNBC, The Atlantic