Politics as sport

jdbruewer's picture

When Congress could not reach and agreement on the payroll tax cut, it was considered gridlock as usual. With both sides putting winning ahead of the good of the public.

When Republicans stepped back from the rhetoric and accepted a compromise, many media reports said the Republican's caved in and the Democrats won.

And so, the treatment of politics as sport continues.

My unscientific observation is that following the success of ESPN's Sportcenter in filling nearly 24 hours a day with interesting programming, the major news networks began to treat politics like sports, picking sides and playing up the drama. ESPN found there were only so many games to broadcast, so they began filling their airwaves with derivative content. Instead of people actually doing something, they aired people talking about people doing something. In the case of 24-hour sports, and then 24-hour news, they maintained interest by playing up conflict and working up team (or partisan) pride. The public likes drama and conflict, so they watched. It was a win/win for broadcasters and viewers, but not for real people.

So, we get what we have today. If congress can't do something that creates a winner and a loser, the public and media are frustrated. Then when they actually do something, those who chronicle the action immediately label winner and losers.

We complain about partisan politics, but we're only getting what we wanted.