In his closing commentary, host Bob Schieffer reminds us that too many people are busying themselves with celebrity news and political horse races and not enough with the very serious subject of our endless occupation in Iraq.
A new Pew Foundation poll found that more than 1/3 of the American people are closely following this campaign. I’m not surprised, this campaign in creating interest in a way that we haven’t seen in years. But here is what really bother’s me. Twice as many people, 12%, had more interest in the death of movie actor Heath Ledger, than were following developments in Iraq. Only 6% said they were closely following the war news. Only 28% knew the death toll in the war has risen to nearly 4,000. There are reasons. The elections and the shaky economy and the fact the war zone is quieter now has pushed the war off TV and front pages, and for many it has become ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ With an all-volunteer military made up of only ½ of 1% of us making the sacrifices in this war, it’s easy for the rest of us to forget the war still goes on.
Certainly there have been few reminders from the campaign trail. John McCain says it is still winnable, but he hasn’t said what “winning it” will take. The Democrats haven’t said much beyond we have to withdraw at some point. As long as Iraq is relatively quiet, the candidates would rather not talk about it, it puts people in a bad humor.
But it is still there and we can’t ignore it forever. It won’t let us.
The problem, as I see it, is that Schieffer is chiding the wrong people. People can only consume the news being fed to them. I blogged about an experiment done by AP last year where people congratulated and thanked AP for not covering Paris Hilton. Now if the media would just remember that so they can replace all the shiny celebrity news with more meaningful coverage.