Friday, September 21, 2007

Rating the News Networks in their Election Campaign Coverage

With the Fall at our doorstep, and the lecture I'm giving to my class at Fordham University about the media mistreatment of Ron Paul just a week away, I thought I'd share with you a little list I put together, which ranks the five major TV news networks on their coverage of Ron Paul as well as other presidential candidates these past six months.

Since I'm not omniscient, I may have missed some network errors and abuses. All corrections and additions are welcome in the comment section.

1. CNN: in first place. They've done nothing wrong that I know of, and get kudos for the YouTube CNN debate a few months ago, in which questions came from people who submitted videos to YouTube, rather than so-called experts in the media. CNN decided which questions to air, but this is still a real breakthrough in the democratization of media.

2. MSNBC has in general done a fine job in its reporting of Ron Paul and the other campaigns. MSNBC commentators Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan have been public and explicit in their support of Ron Paul. But MSNBC got off to a bit off a rough start. Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, discussing the candidates' positions on the war after the debate of May 4, neglected to mention that Ron Paul has been systematically against the war. They both improved their reporting considerably, shortly thereafter.

3. CBS has done nothing wrong in its coverage of the current campaigns, either, as far as I know. But I put CBS in third place because of its continuing graceless treatment of Dan Rather, who was forced out of CBS after courageously reporting about George Bush's military past, in the election of 2004.

4. Now we take a sharp turn downward with Fox News. Hannity and Colmes denigrated Ron Paul's first place finish in the Fox phone-in poll conducted after the last Republican Presidential debate on Fox - the two claimed that Ron Paul's supporters were multiple-dialing. Not only was there no evidence for this, it turns out a second call from the same phone resulted in a text reply that the vote wouldn't count. O'Reilly, to his credit, did have Ron Paul on his show. But to O'Reilly's discredit, he barely gave Ron Paul a chance to get a word in edgewise.

5. ABC is in the cellar. Worse than Fox, ABC failed to mention on at least one occasion that Ron Paul came in first in its post-debate poll. It removed comments from Ron Paul supporters on its online board, and then proceeded to shut it down. ABC also showed a lone Ron Paul supporter before the Iowa caucus, in contrast to big crowds for Romney, when in fact Ron Paul had big crowds of supporters, too. Then there was Mark Levin, in ABC's radio line-up, who called upon his listeners to call up Ron Paul headquarters with advice that Ron Paul couldn't win. And, just for good measure, ABC spread some its abuse around, and cropped Dennis Kucinich out of a photo Democratic contenders.

The good news for Fox and ABC is that the election campaigns are continuing, and they can change their ways. Actually, Fox has been worse than ABC in the past month, and that may be a sign that ABC is finally seeing the error of its ways.

I'd like to see all five major news networks report the election campaigns truthfully. The American people require no less.

I'll continue to keep you posted.
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