Sunday, September 19, 2004

Horserace Hell

Just yesterday in a post (Polls Don't Cell) I talked about the horserace that politics becomes on TV using polls. Well, I must have missed it because the day before Chris Matthews introduced his new Friday version of his show, Hardball The Horserace.

I saw it rerun today and surprise, surprise the introduction revealed poll results within the first 30 seconds. The political media horserace can't live without polls.

Matthews new show is filled with horse racing themes. The first part of the show had three reporters on stories that was called "The Trifecta." Matthews describes Hardball the Horserace as a "guide to the finish line." Later they had a graphic along with a story, "Horserace, From The Field." Another segment discusses political advertising called "Ad Track." In the second half of the show the discussion of polls was called "Poll Track." And you knew someone on the show would be called the "Handicapper," this is Chuck Todd of Hotline.

One segment was about the lack of polls in Florida due to the hurricanes. Ron Reagan was the reporter, explaining that it has been 24 days since Florida had a poll. Interviewing some political expert who explained that pollsters are having a difficult time finding people interested in answering poll questions when they are trying to clean up their property. No doubt. I would think it is both useless and unnecessary to poll Floridians, leave them alone. They are probably going to have a tough time just being ready to hold the election.

It's tempting to help Matthews with more racing allusions. He could call the upcoming debates as "Chomping The Bit." I'm sure the last week of the election will be called "Neck And Neck." If they read e-mail from viewers, "Feed Bag." And the end of the show could have some pertinent news images called, yup, you guessed it "Photo Finish."

Hardball the Horserace is on the surface kind of humorous, but when slipped into the rest of the media coverage of the election it is just a transparent view of the way the media covers politics, polluted by polls. Or back to the horserace theme, pole to pole polls.

Hardball the Horserace...


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