STANFORD—Hoover media fellows Dan Balz of the Washington Post and Matt Bai of the New York Times were joined by Shanto Iyengar, Hoover senior fellow and Stanford professor, in a panel discussion titled “Elections 2008: Rhetoric vs. Reality” on April 19. David Brady, Hoover deputy director and Stanford professor, moderated the discussion.
Before fielding questions from the audience, each panelist spoke briefly about his assessment of the 2008 elections.
In his opening statement, Balz acknowledged the importance of the upcoming elections, saying that although the election has not begun earlier than previous ones, the intensity is definitely up. Finally, he said that the process is more open and fluid than earlier, with the Democratic nomination wide open.
“Fund-raising is record breaking, with no signs of letting up,” said Bai. He added that whereas the amount of money being raised is going up, the value of having it is going down. Television advertising is also becoming less relevant, said Bai, with significant amounts of advertising migrating to the web.
For Iyengar, the nation’s sentiments about the incumbent administration and feelings about the country in general will be key barometers to the upcoming elections.
Questions from the audience focused on the chances of a number of presidential candidates. Senator Hillary Clinton (NY-D), both reporters agreed, represents the past for many people. Governor Mitt Romney (MA-D), Balz said, is too good to be president, adding there are some questions about his “flip-flops.” Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bai said, doesn’t appear to be a strong candidate.
The question of media influence was also raised. Balz believes that the news media have less influence than formerly because they are so spread out and pointed out that the 24-hour media explosion has been detrimental to their influence.
The William and Barbara Edwards Media Fellow Program of the Hoover Institution and the Stanford Department of Communication sponsored the event. The Edwards Media Fellows Program allows print and broadcast media professionals to spend time in residence at the Hoover Institution. Media fellows have the opportunity to exchange information and perspectives with Hoover scholars through seminars and informal meetings and with the Hoover and Stanford communities in public lectures. As fellows, they have the full range of research tools Hoover offers available to them. More than 400 of the nation's top journalists have participated and interacted with Hoover fellows on key public policy issues. Recent media fellows include
Chuck Babington, Washington Post (in residence April 9–13)
Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle (April 9–13)
Stefan Thiel, Newsweek (April 1–6)
Paul Farhi, Washington Post (April 1–6)
Mark Sandalow, San Francisco Chronicle (March 26–30)
Ken Walsh, U.S. News & World Report (March 26–30)