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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Sep 9, 2008

Every college journalism or mass communications student has been exposed to the concept of the “gatekeepers.” That’s a term for how the media decides what issues will be ultimately presented to the public.

Unfortunately, in this election, it’s the national media, particularly the electronic media, not the candidates, that has stalled any real substantive discussion of the issues.

And man do we have them – soaring petroleum prices, military involvement abroad, record prices on the grocery shelf, housing foreclosures, astronomical health-care costs … where does it end?

And yet, instead of asking the candidates their positions on these issues, the national media are focused on Bristol Palin’s pregnancy.

It’s enough to make you want to turn the television off.

At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, the national electronic media could play a key role in solving the nation’s problems. Instead, they’re exacerbating them by focusing their investigations on personalities, not issues.

It would serve the national media right if the candidates would simply refuse to answer personal invasive questions and instead posit a valid and relevant question that affects America and the world.

Former Sen. Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming deftly dealt with a reporter’s question on former President Clinton’s quagmire with Monica Lewinsky. He basically called the reporter a low-down dog who chased every skirt he saw.

Simpson also appeared at a national NRA convention. The audience was aghast when he said he had changed his position in gun control. He said in fact that he was 100 percent in favor of gun control.

Simpson then clarified his position, saying that anyone who couldn’t control his gun well enough to hit what he was shooting at hadn’t ought to have one.

Both presidential candidates could learn something from Simpson’s seasoned political perspective and innate ability to deal with the national media. While he left public life in 1997 to practice law with his sons William and Colin in Cody, Wyo., Simpson’s common-sense, no-nonsense demeanor reminds one of John McCain with the gloves off. A bare-knuckled, jaw-breaking John McCain.

Maybe, just maybe, if a reporter asks the wrong question, we’ll see another Alan Simpson again.