I discovered this post from 2018 I’d begun but never completed. I wanted to expand upon what’s described by Larry Beinhart below. It’s a theme I’ve hinted at in my fiction and in blog posts. This is how I started in 2018:
Just reading Larry Beinhart’s ‘The Librarian’. Published in 2004. I remember hearing about this book years ago. Page 91-92 of an edition published by Nation Books/Avalon, narrator is commenting on US presidential election television debates:
The ratings of the television debates have fallen steadily through the years. That’s because the politicians have learned how to act on television. They hire smart ex-journalists to figure out what the reporters will ask and they get their pollsters to help them shape answers to those questions and they test those answers in focus groups and then adjust the answers and then video themselves practicing their delivery of those replies and show those tapes to more focus who are wired so as to get their biochemical responses, which are regarded as more genuine than their articulated evaluations.
The reporters ask exactly the questions that the candidates expect them to and the replies come back cooked and canned. The more this becomes true, the more the reporters act as if their part in the docudrama is riveting, vital, and urgent.