Kavanaugh’s Overshadowing Presence

Dana Walden, Opinion Columnist

For the past several weeks, all anyone seems to be talking about is Brett Kavanaugh. The man is inescapable. News outlets like the New York Times, CNN and even local channels and papers, seem to always have something to say about the Kavanaugh confirmation. It feels as though Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is the only thing going on in the world… but that is obviously and objectively not the case. Kavanaugh’s is the only story being covered — much to the detriment of the American people.

Kavanaugh’s nomination matters, but it is not the only thing that matters. His confirmation has been sensationalized by major media outlets, who are counting on Kavanaugh’s controversial nature to rack up views and increase readership. There is a limited amount of space on every newspaper page, on every website and on every news show — by covering the Kavanaugh story so intensely, the media has chosen to ignore others.

Focusing so heavily on Kavanaugh doesn’t make the rest of our national issues go away. The Mueller investigation still exists, even though the media seems to have forgotten about it. A smattering of EPA regulations have been rolled back or completely abandoned, but you wouldn’t know that unless you paid particular attention to environmental news. We shouldn’t have to make concerted efforts to be informed. We shouldn’t have to dig around for our news.

I have a hard time believing Kavanaugh’s conformation is more interesting and immediate than the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia around the same time the nomination buzz was at its peak. I can’t help but wonder what we’ve missed these past few weeks, and if that inattention will come back to bite us. Perhaps people really only care about the Kavanaugh nomination, and are content with reading piece after piece demonizing or praising him. I, however, am not.

This would not be as big an issue if the pieces being published about Kavanaugh were unique — the Kavanaugh confirmation is surely compelling, but when is the last time you read an article that brought new information to the table? The articles I’ve read are homogeneous and repetitive — once you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. I’ve only come across a few that weren’t imitative or recapitulative.

It is the general responsibility of the press to inform the American population. We rely on services like news outlets and social media to let us know what is going on, be it of a political or entertaining nature. Events like that of the Kavanaugh confirmation often dominate the news cycle, but rarely for so long. The same story is being repeated over and over, taking up valuable space and time that could be used to talk about other topics that are just as important.

Unfortunately, given Kavanaugh’s temperament, this probably won’t be the last time he’s in the headlines. Now that Kavanaugh has been confirmed, he will probably become a regular component of the daily news cycle, right up there with admonishing Trump for whatever he’s done now and employing an endless number of talking heads to argue about it. This won’t be the last time the news is taken over by one man, nor will it be the last time we have to work for our news. I guess we better get good at digging.

Illustration by Abby Takahashi