Jon Stewart Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

The race began months ago and the press needs to be on top of it.
What Stewart called the "far-future" is already upon us. Photographer: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

I never get tired of saying this: Cut it out, whiners. The press isn’t wrong to be covering the 2016 nomination contest.

The latest person to get this wrong is Jon Stewart, who said about 2016 compared with this year's midterm elections: “Why speculate about the near-future when you can speculate about the far future?” Talking about the elections in two years is like giving “your 10-day forecast …for next February.” (via Goddard.)
Stewart could go from there to complaining about people who watch El Nino. After all, meteorologists shouldn't think about anything happening now that will have consequences down the line, right? To repeat: Like it or not, the 2016 nomination contests in both parties began at least 16 months ago. Waiting until the Iowa caucuses in early 2016, or even until after the midterms, means missing a chunk of the story. Oh, and it’s possible that Hillary Clinton has already won the Democratic nomination.

OK, it’s a hard story to cover; it involves thousands of party actors and their decisions, informal communication and signaling as compete and coordinate on the nomination.

Of course, pure speculation about any election can be a waste of time. But good reporting (such as today’s Washington Post story on Indiana Governor Mike Pence) and analysis of the enormously important contests over presidential nominations is a worthwhile pursuit.

In many other democracies, the nomination battles don’t just begin years in advance, they are fully contested, with each party choosing a parliamentary leader who is also their candidate for the next election.

So complain about the length of our process if you want, but don’t complain about the press coverage. Reporters are doing exactly what they should.

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