This morning, MSBNC pre-empted its Olympic coverage to bring us hours of commentary on, not just the news of, Sen. Joseph Biden’s nomination for Vice President. The other “news” networks droned on and on all morning – analyzing, pontificating, sanctifying and second guessing.
Yes – the fact that the Obama campaign made its announcement via text message made it especially newsworthy. It deserves prominent reporting. And the networks of course should have covered the joint appearance together – Obama and Biden for the first time as a “ticket.” And, yes, the instant advertisements by the McCain camp showing Biden’s past mistrust of Obama and praise of McCain were also news.
But is there a more overrated story than the appointment of a Vice Presidential nominee? I say “no.” Why? Because it just doesn’t matter.
Let’s take a look at the elections over nearly 30 years. I argue that the #2 on the ballot had no bearing on the outcome of the election.
1980 – George H.W. Bush brought “foreign policy experience” – but Reagan would have beaten Carter in a landslide with anybody along for the ride
1984 – Geraldine Ferraro didn’t help Walter Mondale carry more than one state (his own)
1988 – Dan Quayle as a running-mate didn’t hurt “Bush 41” – and if he couldn’t – nobody could. Remember him in that debate vs. Lloyd “You’re no Jack Kennedy” Bentsen? It didn’t make a dent in the election results.
1992 – Clinton/Gore poked a huge hole in the “geographic diversity” rationale (both Southerners)
1996 – Quick? Anyone remember Bob Dole’s running-mate? It was Jack Kemp. Didn’t matter.
2000 – Dick Cheney didn’t exactly light up the campaign trail. It didn’t matter.
2004 – Ditto. And how exactly did John Edwards help John Kerry?
For those of us not in political PR, the media would stop paying attention to our news if, after nearly 30 years, it didn’t prove impactful. But the political types use the media every day. It’s time our news outlets start putting stories like this into perspective.