On Foreign Policy Coverage
Posted by Michael Signer
An essay I wrote in the Washington Post on Sunday about foreign policy coverage during this campaign has provoked a wide range of interesting and occasionally bewildering responses, from Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum, AJ Rossmiller, Ilan Goldenberg, and Matt Stoller.
I will get to them in a moment, but first wanted to say that there was an extremely heartening sequence in the MSNBC debate in Cleveland last night. Tim Russert asked both candidates tough questions about Dmitri Medvedev, Vladimir Putin’s handpicked successor as president.
As I’m still involved in the race in some ways, I won’t comment on the particular merits of each answer, but the exercise proved my original point—when the media engage in a serious way in probing candidates on foreign policy, they can push the candidates to reveal ways they think and qualities they would manifest as commander-in-chief. I’ve included an excerpt at the end of this post.
Now, for the debate about coverage. Ezra, Matt, and A.J. all had approving, thoughtful posts both appraising the depth of this disaster and trying to explain its causes a little better. Ezra observed a lack of thoughtful, in-depth journalistic coverage of policy in general. Matt said we lack Krugman-esque journalists working on foreign policy.
This is exactly the constructive path we ought to take, and I just hope that some members of the MSM get in the game.
But then there were a couple of posts that took a different path—toward a blame-the-victim pattern that attempted to blame campaigns for the media’s failure to cover their foreign policy proposals. I'd like to talk about this because I think it's actually a really instructive pressure point in this debate, especially for the blogs who are supposed to be keeping the MSM honest.