March 26, 2021

President Biden held a press conference Thursday, and it was obvious what mattered to the questioners, and what didn't.

Over the course of 62 minutes on Thursday, the Covid-19 pandemic never arose, except for in the president’s remarks at the start of the event, touting the accomplishments his administration has made in the U.S.’s year-long fight....

He called on 10 reporters....

They peppered him with question after question about the rush of migrants seeking refuge at the border....

Is the border a huge crisis, or are we experiencing more or less the usual seasonal migrant activity at the border, a problem that's likely to peak in May, when temperatures climb and the heat makes it too dangerous to cross? We'll find out. But for the time being, the press seems obsessed.

Republicans have been working the refs pretty hard on this issue, and the mainstream media, while it may skew socially liberal and seems to find many Republicans disagreeable, is always highly critical of Democratic presidents once they're in office. (The media's ideal president would be a Republican who doesn't engage in culture wars but who does fret a lot about deficits. Alas for the high-profile journalists, Larry Hogan, Charlie Baker, and Bill Weld will never be president, and Ben Sasse, Nikki Haley, and J.D. Vance will always revert to culture-war demagoguery.)

But there's another reason the press is talking about the border. It's a somewhat more benign reason, though it has nothing to do with serious judgment about what's truly important.

Mainstream media outlets, especially on television, want stories that stir the emotions. Also, they want to attract eyeballs across the political spectrum.

How do you do that right now? The pandemic seemed like an emotional story, but right-wingers have been shrugging it off for a year now. Voting rights? Progressives and non-white voters care, and hardcore right-wingers think H.R. 1 is a Democratic scam to steal elections, but I don't think voting is a big issue for most moderate whites.

The border, however, is great television. It's compelling across the ideological spectrum. Centrists and people who aren't very political get choked up when they see kids in wretched conditions. So do progressives, who also get angry for ideological reasons. Right-wingers get angry for precisely the opposite reasons -- nothing gets them riled up more than immigration.

For the networks, it's win-win-win.

Does that mean it's the most important problem in America? No. But it's great television, and that's what matters.

Posted with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog

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