Search Google News and you'll get 93,300,000 hits on the phrase "fiscal cliff."
That's a lot of cliffs.
And of course you've got the usual puns, mostly of the tired "driving over the cliff" variety. Here's a rule about writing -- never go with the first idea that comes to mind. Driving over the cliff, that's sad. Diving off the cliff, not much better. Work at it, folks. As someone said: Good writing is a war with cliche. But this is isn't a blog about writing, so let's move on to the question of the day and that is, quite simply, does all this news coverage help or hurt politicians come to some reasonable solution?
In the help column, constant coverage by the cable news networks and pundits has to increase pressure on both sides to compromise. By the way, search for "fiscal cliff" and "compromise" and you get 93,000 hits. I find that comforting. We also know that constant coverage pushes the issue up in the public's agenda as important. Certainly we've seen a significant increase in the last few weeks, from polls, in how many people recognize the term and think it's a big deal.
In the hurt column, though, you can argue that all the coverage is pushing the political extremes and making it more difficult to reach a solution. From a theoretical perspective, you can argue that so much coverage (a lot of it, of modest quality) means reporters have to read tea leaves and see things that really aren't there, only making matters worse. Covering the "fiscal cliff" like a ballgame probably does more harm than good.