Oh, look—Brian Moran announced today that he’s running for governor. And media outlets are carrying the story as news—Charlottesville’s WCAV, D.C.’s WTOP, the Associated Press / Daily Press, and Lynchburg’s WSET are all reporting on this.
I don’t mean to pick on Moran here, because lots of candidates do this. They run for office for months or years, make hundreds of visits to dozens or hundreds of locations across the district, are the subject of hundreds of articles, file their declaration of candidacy with the SBE, collect the signatures to get on the ballot for a primary, report across several campaign finance cycles…and then announce that they’re running for office. Why do candidates do it? Because it works—media outlets run the story, as we can see here. If Brian Moran held a press conference announcing his candidacy once a week, every week, for months, I wonder how long media outlets would keep reporting it as news?
These stories should feature reporters asking Moran what’s changed, what is true today that wasn’t yesterday, and explaining to their audience that this is simple political theater. (WSET gets close, telling their viewers: “You may have thought he was already in the running but Saturday Brian Moran officially entered the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.” But that’s misleading—it implies that he wasn’t in the running yesterday, but that it’s “official” today.) Better still, though, media outlets just shouldn’t cover these sorts of events. Many are in rough financial shape. Better to spend time covering actual news.