Friday, October 16, 2015

Media attention to Trump, Kim Davis, Ann Coulter: Should we ignore outrageous candidates?

Dahlia Lithwick wrote Media attention to Trump, Kim Davis, Ann Coulter: Should we ignore outrageous candidates? "‘Stop posting about Kim Davis! You’re just encouraging her!’ ‘Why are you writing about Donald Trump at all? He feeds on this!’ The shark cat on the Roomba starts to look like the only permissible social commentary."

Her argument is:

My objection was that if we—as consumers and producers and purveyors of news—decide that we will simply ignore the existence and arguments of every pundit, candidate, or religious dissenter to whom we object, it doesn’t in fact make them go away. It simply takes us out of the conversation. If I made it a policy to never post on Facebook or write articles about hugely popular public figures or movements simply because I don’t want to make them look more serious, or make their crazy worldview look legitimate, I would be elevating what we call “epistemic closure” to DEFCON 4.

This is precisely why we have a liberal media and a conservative media that cannot agree on even demonstrable facts. Because ignoring the other side is a legitimate form of political discourse.

While she has a point, I think she's missing something. It's possible to talk about the issues, even the issues that these attention seeking trolls bring up, without talking about the trolls themselves. It's possible to do a story about immigration without mentioning Trump.

It's also the case that it's possible to cover people like Kim Davis without being all-consuming about it. She'll have her 15 mins but, does every journalist have to cover her around the clock for two weeks? Does the top 20 minutes of every hour of cable news have to be devoted to her? Lithwick writes infrequently, maybe she could skip every other media circus or only write about a third of them. As she said, ignoring Ann Coulter works. Maybe the "absurd" media would serve us better by at least doing more ignoring.

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