Every cultural happening seems to only matter for its impact on politics, specifically for how it affects the horse race. The farmer with the big glasses in Food, Inc. had a memorable quote: "We have become a culture of technicians." That is brilliant. What he meant was that we ask a lot about what, but rarely do we ask about why. We'll probably see this played out as the end of this latest E. Coli outbreak. They will find the source and mitigate the problem which is actually just a symptom of the problem. And then we'll move on. No one will question how or whether our large-scale modern agricultural practices are contributing to these outbreaks.
This is the distinction Plato was making in his shorter dialogues between the sophist and the philosopher. The sophist looks at everything through the lens of politics while the philosopher looks through the lense of the good, the just, and the true. It is what Glen Greenwald would call the difference between the journalist and the royal court stenographer.
I remember being as dumbfounded as both the farmer and the philosopher about the media's coverage of Wikileaks. Rather than address the substance of the revelations and questions they raised about good governance and corruption, the supposedly neutral media was more concerned about how it made America look. They were purely interested in aesthetics. For them, the world is a beauty paegent.
When anything substantive threatens to happen in this country, the media is quick to ask... not about that substance but rather, "Does this make the president look bad?" An example from a major cable news network: After an airstrike in one of the many countries we manage which killed nothing but children, a correspondent was asked for his thoughts. His thoughts? He cited it as an example of bad publicity for the U.S. and the president.