Fo­cus should be on facts

The Covington News - - Opinion - JACKIE CUSH­MAN COLUM­NIST To find out more about Jackie Gin­grich Cush­man, and read fea­tures by other Creators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit

The chal­lenge for mod­ern-day cam­paigns is that the rapid speed of the news cy­cle en­sures that new news is cre­ated on a daily ba­sis, even when it is not re­ally news. Blame the hunger for some­thing novel and fresh that can eat up time on the 24-hour ca­ble news chan­nels.

Think of to­day’s news or­ga­ni­za­tions as in­sa­tiable beasts whose rav­en­ous ap­petites con­stantly need more and more news bites, and more anal­y­sis about those news bites. The de­sire for more con­tent for their view­ers and read­ers means that they deem ev­ery­thing new to be news­wor­thy, or at least news­wor­thy enough to jus­tify fill­ing space on a web­page and a few min­utes on the ca­ble show.

This drive for fresh news cre­ates an en­vi­ron­ment that is more hos­pitable to cov­er­ing mo­men­tary gaffes and com­ments rather than pre­sent­ing any deep anal­y­sis of facts. It’s fast and easy to re­peat or re­play a com­ment, and then com­ment on that com­ment. It is not un­usual for a news out­let to com­ment about the com­ments about the com­ments. No re­search re­quired, no fact-check­ing re­quired, sim­ply an opin­ion about some­one’s com­ments, fol­lowed by an opin­ion about the com­men­ta­tor’s com­ments.

Think of this as the jour­nal­ism equiv­a­lent to lunch­room gos­sip about who said what to whom. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing, it’s in­ter­est­ing — but is it im­por­tant?

It’s harder and more time-con­sum­ing to an­a­lyze facts and fig­ures and to come to a con­clu­sion about the mean­ing of said facts and fig­ures. This re­quires time, ef­fort and fo­cus. It re­quires anal­y­sis rather than emo­tion. It re­quires re­sources, in time and money.

It can be, frankly, a bit bor­ing.

It’s like a term pa­per or re­search re­port. It re­quires sources and ev­i­dence. By def­i­ni­tion, it is driven less by emo­tion and more by logic and facts. The con­clu­sions have to stand on their own and must be sup­ported by the facts.

Au­di­ences thrive on emo­tion­ally charged top­ics and vi­gnettes. That’s why re­al­ity TV shows can be so cap­ti­vat­ing. In-depth analy­ses are not as emo­tion­ally charged, which may re­duce their ap­peal to au­di­ences.

Quite a few of us have fallen asleep or at least day­dreamed when a class­mate was pre­sent­ing a re­search re­port. But no one would fall asleep dur­ing a good gos­sip ses­sion in the lunch­room.

The gos­sip tid­bit this week is a video of Rom­ney speak­ing at a May fundraiser in which he said that 47 per­cent of the pop­u­lace was “de­pen­dent upon the gov­ern­ment” and that his job was to not worry about these peo­ple. Since he was speak­ing as a can­di­date to peo­ple who were pay­ing to at­tend a fundraiser, the com­ments should be taken as such: re­marks from a can­di­date to fun­ders, not from a pres­i­dent to the peo­ple of Amer­ica. (Re­mem­ber that can­di­date Obama talked about peo­ple cling­ing to guns and re­li­gion.)

In­stead of fo­cus­ing on the gaffe of the day, we, and es­pe­cially the Rom­ney team, should be fo­cus­ing on the facts and real anal­y­sis.

Here are a few that merit our at­ten­tion: months into his term, has yet to pass a bal­anced bud­get. Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Re­serve web­site, U.S. debt has in­creased 51 per­cent — from $10.6 tril­lion to more than $16 tril­lion. prod­uct an­nual growth for the sec­ond quar­ter was 1.7 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Com­merce Bureau of Eco­nomic Anal­y­sis web­site. 8 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics web­site; more than 17 per­cent of those who want to work full time are ei­ther not work­ing at all or are work­ing part time. Cen­sus bureau, 28 mil­lion peo­ple were re­ceiv­ing food stamps in 2008. That num­ber had soared to 46 mil­lion peo­ple at the end of June of this year, an in­crease of 18 mil­lion peo­ple, a 64 per­cent in­crease.

Those are the facts. These facts should be driven into ev­ery talk­ing point that the Republicans have over the six-plus weeks left be­fore the elec­tion.

Here’s my anal­y­sis: Pres­i­dent Obama has had his chance to lead our coun­try, and I am not sat­is­fied with the re­sults, (see facts above).

My hope is that there will soon be change in the White House.

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