Howard Kurtz takes another look at American Candidate, the FX network “reality” program that proposes to choose a people’s candidate for President. As I have written before (here, here, here, and here), I find this all very amusing and disturbing. The show is slated to begin in January. The application process starts this spring.
I’m goin’ for it!
Here’s something frightening to consider:
“A reporter said to me, ‘Do you mean to tell me our next president is going to be selected by television?’ ” [executive producer R.J.] Cutler recalls. But that, arguably, is what happens now. In other words, a process filled with fake media events and ginned-up publicity might illuminate how the real thing works — especially if it’s more interesting than watching Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards, Lieberman et al. trudge through Iowa cornfields.
There’s nothing arguable about it. TV plays a primary role in the presidential election. Today, every decision a candidate makes must take the needs of television into account. What are these needs? The structural biases of journalism outline the needs, which include the need for drama, images, emotion, and narrative.
UPDATE: (9:50 a.m.): Jay Manifold understands that the winning candidate will have an uphill task. I’m sure we’ll be discussing this later. KC bloggers are meeting at the Broadway Cafe tonight.