Here's a thought: does the omnipresence of the media prevent individual personalities from coming to the fore? To clarify: are people expected to speak and act in a certain way?
I think so, absolutely.
Thinking about it, almost anything one can say - no matter how innocuous - can be spun to mean or imply something horrible by an opponent. Thus we end up with politicians (or political hopefuls) whose public words are filled with either vague generalities, non-descript cliches or "I'm with you whomever you are!"-kind of talk. Its only when the mic's off that, I think, the true person comes bursting through.
People vote. People are also vulnerable to spins, slants and "My Party!"-rhetoric - without realizing it, I believe people also choose their leaders much like they choose their breakfast cereal ("Hey, this looks good!") without diving in any deeper; besides, who can wade through all the muck, propaganda, slams, mudslinging and spins to find 'the truth' - would we know it even if we saw it? I think politicians know this; that their future employment relies on sounding just like their constituents/potential constituents think they should
. Why else might we get decade after decade of broken campaign promises?
So hell yea; I think media-presence greatly influences what they say. Add to this the disgustingly-adversarial political environment we have - where each sound byte becomes a potential boon or bane - and one arrives at a place where almost nothing publicly said has substance or that aura of genuineness.