Former President Barack Obama topped the list of guests on ManningCast’s alternative feed Monday night soccer with the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears.
And during his appearance, the well-known Bears fan interrupted the game with Peyton and Eli Manning to offer media analysis.
“Political reporting is very similar to sports reporting. People are always looking for controversy. To stir things up, because that’s clickbait. Most people don’t think like that.” – @BarackObama #ManningCast pic.twitter.com/x29Olw6E9G
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“Obviously, rural people are fed up with politics at times at the moment because there is so much barking and bickering. Political coverage is very similar to sports coverage,” the former president explained during the ManningCast. “People are always looking for controversy to stir things up, because that’s clickbait. It draws attention.
“Most people don’t think like that. Most people are just trying to figure out how to make it right for my family at work. And when we don’t participate, we leave it to the people whose job it is to share,” Obama continued, before promoting IWillVote.com to encourage voter turnout.
Obama rightly claims controversy and clickbait attracts attention, which is why both sports and political media outlets will make headlines to generate interest in hopes of recruiting clicks. But while there is some truth to Obama’s statement, there are also many overlooked exaggerations when comparing sports media to the political press.
For the past few months, Obama has been campaigning, warning the public about disinformation caused in part by the loss of local journalism, claiming it is weakening the country’s democracy.
Sports media can still be clickbait, but their ability to deal with facts differs from the fourth estate. Sport has less disinformation thanks to tangible statistics and unchallenged scoreboards. The Bears continue to beat the Patriots 33-14 Monday night soccer, and everyone in the sports media will agree that this is a fact. Even when politics publishes an indicator like an election result, part of the news media refuses to accept it as fact.
One side of the political media will claim that climate change is not real, while another will argue that climate catastrophe is only a decade away. Imagine if sports media operated in a similar way? “Who is better, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Well, Manning is better because Tom Brady didn’t win a Super Bowl. Ridiculous as debate shows in sports can sometimes be, they still don’t bow to the lower tiers of the political media.
Sports speakers can tirelessly debate Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James or whether Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, but neither side will question their stats or ring totals. Political and news media will continue to strive to have sensible discussions until they can agree on the facts needed for a productive debate.