Nov 1 2000

Populist Rhetoric Unpopular with the Pundits

Press finds Gore's 'obsolete jargon' hard to swallow

This year, the normal rhythms of post-election punditry were disrupted by all the talk of dimpled chads and canvassing boards. But echoing the pre-election refrain, one message did emerge from the muffled Monday-morning quarterbacking: Al Gore’s campaign ran too far to the left. It’s a familiar charge, one that’s repeated every time a Democrat loses the presidential race. (See Extra!, 9/92.) Joe Klein, who writes about politics for the New Yorker, posited just before election day (11/6/00) that Gore’s poll numbers were suffering from “the populist rhetoric that has marked his campaign.” Klein did not offer an explanation of how […]

Oct 25 2000

Free Air Time on PBS: Not for All Candidates

PBS has announced its plan to offer free air time to presidential candidates beginning tonight, October 25, and concluding on Friday, November 3. The candidates will get 2 and a half minutes at the end of the “NewsHour withJim Lehrer” to address viewers directly, but the offer is not open to allthe candidates: The PBS proposal provides four nights for Al Gore, and four for George W. Bush. This narrowing of the debate to the major parties continues the exclusionary spirit of this year’s presidential debates, organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and moderated by NewsHour host Jim […]

Oct 1 2000

Nader and the Press: Condescension Turns Nasty

Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign has mostly been of interest to mainstream journalists not for the ideas or new voters that it brings to the election, but for the impact it might have on Democrat Al Gore’s electoral chances. The headline “Nader’s Bid Complicates Gore’s Task” (Washington Post, 5/25/00) sums up this approach. Even this role for Nader–often referred to as a “spoiler,” or as “stealing” votes–was sometimes downplayed by media figures. After George Stephanopoulos suggested on ABC‘s This Week (6/25/00) that Nader might be polling near the 5 percent mark in several key states, fellow panelist Cokie Roberts responded with, […]

Oct 1 2000

Novak on ‘Color-Blindness’

Commentator Robert Novak wasn’t happy with the ethnicity of the speakers at the Republican convention. He complained to Bush adviser Ralph Reed (Crossfire, 7/31/00): You know, Mr. Reed, I used to think that one of the values of the Republican Party is they were color-blind while the Democrats had a quota system. I was looking at the schedule for tonight’s proceedings. . . . We have tonight four African-Americans, two Jews, five Hispanics and an Asian. . . . Boy, I thought I was in San Francisco with the Democrats, what Jeane Kirkpatrick used to call the San Francisco Democrats. […]

Sep 28 2000

Allow Nader, Buchanan into Debates

Recent history suggests that nothing sparks interest in the debates like the inclusion of third-party candidates

By getting Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Gore to agree to a schedule of debates to be broadcast by major TV networks, the Commission on Presidential Debates has saved the day. At least, that’s what we were told. But who will save us from the commission? And can we trust the CPD to sponsor debates that will maximize audience and interest? History suggests not. The Bush campaign has been roundly and deservedly rebuked for seeking debate venues that would limit the number of people watching. But in 1996, it was the Clinton-Gore campaign — leading in the polls […]

Sep 27 2000

FAIR Denounces Debate Commission’s Exclusion of Minor-Party Candidates

With a show of solemnity yesterday, the Commission on Presidential Debates carried through its vow to exclude all minor-party candidates from the nationally televised debates. Protests against the Commission and its plans for restricted debates are expected to grow, including at the site of the first debate in Boston, Oct. 3. Established by the two major parties in 1987 with the publicly stated intent of excluding competition to the two parties, the Commission cited its “Nonpartisan Candidate Selection Criteria” in announcing its decision. But the Commission, run by the former chairs of the national Republican and Democratic parties who founded […]

Sep 24 2000

Why Not Open the Debates to Others?

We are media critics and commentators who are rarely unanimous in our opinions. Yet we are united in our belief that voters would be better served by broader debates than those sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. We believe that the American people should have, at the very least, one nationally televised opportunity to see Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee, Pat Buchanan, the Reform Party nominee, and Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party nominee, go up against Al Gore and George W. Bush. This year, the commission plans to exclude minor-party candidates who lack 15 percent support in national […]

Sep 24 2000

Gore Willing to Consider Including Nader in Debates

United Press International

Vice President Al Gore told reporters during a conference call Sunday that he had not “ruled out” the possibility of including Ralph Nader or other third party candidates in the upcoming presidential debates. Gore said he believed the deadline for expanding the field in the debates had not yet passed, although the first debate was less than two weeks away. Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush have agreed to spar in three debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, while Green Party Candidate Nader and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan have railed against the commission for excluding them. […]