The Media Obsesses Over Jeb Bush’s Diet Tips

"Mister President! Mister President! How many calories are in that turkey?"

“Mister President! Mister President! How many calories are in that turkey?”

Look, I’ve worked in the media during a presidential campaign. I know what it’s like. You get swept up in the craziness of it all, and sometimes your good sense goes out the window. You forget that these politicians are trying to be leader of the free world and you start to think of it as some sort of weird sport. The next thing you know, you’re cranking out one thousand words about Rick Santorum’s love of sweater vests and you haven’t thought about a real issue in a week and a half.

But it’s a little early for this kind of zaniness to seep into presidential coverage: the New York Times‘s Michael Barbaro has written a long story about Jeb Bush going on the Paleo diet.

You could argue that there’s a place for this kind of frivolity, with over a year and a half to go until the general election. I’d counter-argue that now is the time when candidates are available to the public, and so now is exactly when the media should be holding candidates accountable.

Rather than publishing hundreds of words about Governor Bush’s weight loss, I’d rather see the New York Times hold Bush accountable for some of his most outrageous beliefs. For instance, does he really believe that the poorest Americans should be forced into catastrophic-only health care plans? How does that jibe with Bush’s supposed “Right to Rise” focus on income inequality? For that matter, how does Bush justify his concern for income inequality in relation to his recent claim that there should be no federal minimum wage? Is it true that Bush still, in 2015, opposes marriage equality?

I understand that every so often the media needs to loosen its tie and get a little silly. But at this point, I’m more concerned with the stuff coming out of Jeb Bush’s mouth than what’s going into it. I wish the media shared my concern.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.