Misulonas: Media overdose of Linsanity and Romn-ination

Joseph Misulonas

This past February, there were two news sagas that seemed to dominate media coverage: Linsanity and the Republican presidential primary.

And I’m tired of them both.

There are some entertaining aspects of both stories. Jeremy Lin showed up out of nowhere and started outperforming NBA all-stars such as Deron Williams and turned the downtrodden New York Knicks into a playoff contender. Mitt Romney had been the frontrunner for months in the Republican primary, but an inability to connect with voters and questions about his conservative credentials have prevented him from turning his poll numbers into electoral victories.

Both of these stories are important in their own ways, but I’m so tired of reading about them. We get it already! Lin turned out to be a pretty good player even though none of us had ever heard of him, and Romney is as appealing to voters as a scarecrow. We understand.

But that doesn’t keep media organizations from beating this dead horse. Turn on any 24-hour news channel, including ESPN, and there is a high probability one of these two stories is going to be discussed. Unless there’s a celebrity death rumor, in which case all bets are off.

The problem isn’t the stories themselves. Rather, it’s the inability of the media to find a new angle or offer a new perspective. It’s always, “Jeremy Lin scored 23 points. Did you know a month ago he was sleeping on a friend’s couch?” or, “Recent polls show that people still don’t like Mitt Romney.” There’s rarely a story that isn’t a derivative of those storylines.

The intense media spotlight is actually hurting both Lin and Romney. The more ESPN analysts profess their love for Lin, the more fans are comparing him to other (and mostly better) point guards around the league and wondering why they’re not getting any love. Derrick Rose or Chris Paul fans turn on Lin and begin to root for him to fail.

The same goes for Romney. The more the media scrutinizes his words and highlights his mistakes and his weaknesses, the more voters are going to be turned off from him.

I call this the Tebow Theory, which states there is an inverse relationship between the media coverage an individual receives and the popularity the individual garners from the public.

This theory is based on the experience of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who was the center of the media’s attention this previous football season for winning several football games without having any ability to play the quarterback position.

Many fans rooted for Tebow to fail in the hopes that the media, primarily ESPN, would stop their perpetual praise of his play. The problem is that this intense audience backlash against these individuals is often misguided.

Although Tebow and Lin may not be the most talented at their positions, they certainly are not the worst. The same can go for Romney, who is often criticized for not being conservative enough when Newt Gingrich has a history of supporting anti-global warming efforts and Rick Santorum voted for a huge expansion of prescription drug benefits in Medicare.

Though Tebow, Lin and Romney are centered in the media spotlight, others who are worthy of scrutiny are escaping untouched.

Perhaps that is the nature of the American public. We love to see popular figures get taken down a notch. It’s the reason why tabloids exist and why websites such as TMZ and Perez Hilton are so popular.

We love to see famous people mess up. We want Lin and Romney to fail, so the media keeps talking about them to feed our addiction. Whether Lin and Romney deserve the scrutiny they receive is irrelevant.

The only thing that’s important to the media is whether people are tuning in. Linsanity and the failure of Romn-ination will continue to be covered continuously by the media.

Though some of us are tired of it, we’ll keep tuning in and talking about it, even if the conversations we’re having are still the same.

And hopefully, both of these sagas end with Lin and Romney losing to a charismatic black man from Chicago.

Joseph Misulonas is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]

All opinions expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the columnist and do not reflect the views of The Daily Northwestern. If you would like to respond to the column, you may comment below, email the columnist or submit a 300-word letter to the editor to [email protected].