I have a new CJR column up warning journalists about converging on simplistic debate narratives based on campaign spin. As a remedy, I offer a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that news outlets should send a reporter into isolation to write up the debate without access to any other spin. What would happen? Here's how it begins:
As tonight’s presidential debate approaches, the chattering classes are pondering whether it will change the dynamics of the campaign, which currently favor President Obama over Mitt Romney.
The odds are that it will not—most debates are non-events, at least in terms of electoral impact; political science research suggests that they rarely cause a significant change in the polls. To the extent that debates do matter for the horse race, however, the most important mechanism seems to be not the content of the debate itself but the interpretation adopted in subsequent media coverage. Given these stakes, it’s vital that journalists be wary about coalescing too readily on a common narrative—and that they be especially skeptical of post-debate spin.
For more, read the whole thing.