Inside Media: Election 2008: The Results are In

November 08, 2008

Guest: Ruth Marcus

Washington Post reporter Ruth Marcus left work at 1 a.m. on election night, and on her way home encountered what she called one of the most "amazing scenes" in front of the White House. People were cheering about the news that Sen. Barack Obama had won the presidency.

"It was sort of like when the Brazilians win the World Cup, it was that kind of excitement," she said.

The historic moment of the United States electing its first African-American president was also captured on the covers of 700 newspapers worldwide, with many proclaiming "Obama!" "Mr. President," or the senator’s ubiquitous campaign slogan "Yes We Can."

"Sen. Obama kind of won the old-fashioned way for a Democrat, which was not to win a majority of the white vote. There wasn’t one demographic that sent him over the edge, which is a healthy thing," according to Marcus.

Marcus, who sits on the Post’s editorial board, acknowledged the news media’s election coverage didn’t focus enough on the candidates’ policy stances.

"With this campaign, I thought it was particularly bad. We spent a lot of time talking about what Obama and McCain’s surrogates were saying instead of talking about the issues."

Marcus explained that the public often prefers the media’s emphasis on personality.

"If I write a column about Sarah Palin, I get a large number of page views on the Post Web site, but if I write a column on Sen. McCain’s health-care policy, I’m only going to get a sliver of those page views, so that’s a disappointment," she said.

The self-professed Obama skeptic is a reformed believer.

"The morning after the election, there was a long line of people in front of the Post buying our newspaper. I believe Obama is a miracle worker. He’s selling newspapers," she joked.

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