Markets in Everything: Covering the Predictable Edition

Alex Tabarrok observes that InTrade is predicting a 98.5 percent chance of Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation and wonders “What tells you more about the Sotomayor nomination, all of the chatter and debate in the MSM over her “controversial” remarks or the single number from intrade.” Then he quotes Jim Ward:

Do reporters and news Agencies even know to check the betting markets? Or do they just ignore it, because “X sure to happen, nothing to see” is not a story? Or they don’t want to seem biased, and have to provide 2 sides to every story…Why not just throw Intrade odds into every story as an addendum?

Look. What we’re seeing in the press’ coverage of the Sotomayor nomination isn’t the media’s failure to understand the value of markets. What we’re seeing is the genius of the free market in action. Media outlets are in the business of obtaining an audience and selling access to that audience to advertisers. You don’t gain audience share by telling people that the most important political drama of the weak is not, in fact, interesting or dramatic. You gain audience share by hyping it up as a big important battle. So that’s what they’re doing.

If you peer into analysis articles on the issue, they all wind up conceding that Sotomayor’s confirmation is all-but-assured. Nobody is confused about this. The incentives just point toward writing around it.