Matt thinks so. (Though it’s also worth noting that the entire Wright controversy was set in motion via a few choice soundbites.)

Speaking of which, years ago, Mitchell Stephens observed that the catch-all critique of soundbites frequently obscures the real issue at hand: the media’s habitual brevity and lack of depth in its analysis. Yes, in 1968, presidential candidates got an average of 43 seconds to uninterruptedly expound their views, while in 2004, the candidates got an average of 7.8 seconds. But Stephens argues that rather than attacking soundbites alone, it might make more sense to focus on the need for reporters’ greater rigor in their question-asking. Longer soundbites “would not necessarily elevate television news or political discourse in general, and better use of short ones might.” After all, it’s as easy for a politician to drivel on without saying anything for 43 seconds as it is for eight.