Taibbi: Romney winning would be like waking up with a naked Lloyd Blankfein sitting on your face [View all]
How the Hype Became Bigger Than the Presidential Election
Blame the media for making whole generations hate The Process
By Matt Taibbi
October 9, 2012 3:20 PM ET
Well, it's over. Or almost over, thank God. It looks like Obama will probably win, which I guess is good news, compared to the alternative – a Mitt Romney presidency would have felt like four straight years of waking up with a naked Lloyd Blankfein sitting on your face. But it's not so much the result that matters – it's the quiet.
What we Americans go through to pick a president is not only crazy and unnecessary but genuinely abusive. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in a craven, cynical effort to stir up hatred and anger on both sides. A decision that in reality takes one or two days of careful research to make is somehow stretched out into a process that involves two years of relentless, suffocating mind-warfare, an onslaught of toxic media messaging directed at liberals, conservatives and everyone in between that by Election Day makes every dinner conversation dangerous and literally divides families.
Politicians are much to blame for this, but we in the media have to take responsibility for the damage we do to the American psyche in the name of election coverage. At this very moment, there are people all over the country who are stocking up on canned goods and ammo for the apocalypse they believe will come if Obama is re-elected. For the broadcast business to be successful, viewers need to be not merely interested in our political melodramas, they have to be in an absolute state about them – emotionally invested in the outcome and frightened not to watch what happens next. And any person who's been subjected to 720 consecutive days of propaganda is not likely to take the news well if he gets the wrong result, whether it's a victory for Obama or for Romney. By that point, the networks have spent two years finding new ways each day to convince him that the world is going to disintegrate into some commie or Hitlerian version of Mad Max, to keep him coming back and watching ads.