Beware The Easy Story Line

When you start hearing the same story line again and again and again from the media, it's good to be skeptical.  Here's Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly (link):

But it's the nuances and details that poke some important holes in the "anti-incumbent" narrative. Specter didn't struggle because he's a sitting senator; he lost because he ran in a Democratic primary after serving as a Republican for 30 years -- a Republican who backed Bush, Cheney, Santorum, McCain, and Palin. Lincoln's career isn't in jeopardy because she's already in office; she's in trouble because Democratic voters aren't pleased with her voting record and aren't convinced she can win in November.

Even among Republicans, the major shake-ups -- in Kentucky, in Florida, in Utah -- have very little to do with incumbency and a great deal to do with ideology.

The media's rush to oversimplify things is consistent with how major outlets cover developments like these. It's just what they do. But it also leads to unhelpful reporting that doesn't fully capture the larger dynamic.

To be clear, this doesn't mean anti-incumbency isn't going to be a factor this fall.  What it does mean is that the press often picks the facts (or lack of facts) to fit a pre-existing, easy to understand, narrative.  And mainstream reporting seems to have done that again with their headline analysis of yesterday's outcomes.

Hat Tip:  Eric Wagner - Thanks for sending the link along!

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