Election 2000-A Media Disgrace Essay, Research Paper
A national scandal. An international embarrassment. The closest presidential race in America?s history. And the media loved every minute of it. Savoring the proverbial field-day, U.S. journalists greatly assisted in dividing the country, destroying the people?s respect for the American legal system, embarrassing the world?s superpower, and simply annoying the crap out of everyone. To be fair, the American people repeatedly lunged for anything and everything remotely presidential, but we?ve been fined tuned by our media to expect exactly what we got: chaos.
In order to obtain more ground to cover, the media started off by telling the people just how different the two major candidates were (always relishing partisanship), when in truth, they aren?t that polarized. Of course, they have different views on how to accomplish certain goals, but for the most part, those goals are the same. It?s the usual, strengthen our economy, preserve social security, improve education, yada yada yada; the candidates just occasionally differ on how to do so. So now that the election stage had been set, then hyped up, then hyped up some more, we met with D-Day: November 7, 2000.
This is where the media starts to reek political havoc and slice journalistic credibility to ribbons. In a performance that will live in journalistic infamy, television?s most famous news personalities subjected the nation to an emotional, unnecessary, and irresponsible roller coaster ride November 7th. The farce that unfolded on television on election night revealed that, as much as the networks may try to pitch themselves as experienced and professional news organizations, they are anything but. Early Tuesday evening, Dan Rather invited viewers to “join CBS News for what the record shows over the years has been the most accurate presidential election night coverage.” Later, in primetime, Rather assured his audience, “if we say somebody?s carried the state, you can take that to the bank.” Instead, did the national media help put us in Palm Beach Punch-Card Hell with their irresistible urge to call the state for Gore ten minutes before the polls closed on the Panhandle? Did the media’s biased bad manners discourage last-minute Bush votes? And why did the networks lunge to call victorious states for Gore at the top of the hour, while eventual Bush states sat colorless for hours on end? These questions can be answered only with speculation about media?s political bias and Gore-prioritized agenda setting. Yale professor John Lott estimated that 10,000 voters in the Florida panhandle could have been discouraged from voting by the networks’ simultaneous premature Goregasm in Florida. The moderate Republican Leadership Council reported it found 2,380 voters, in those ten Panhandle counties, who were discouraged by the network calls. David Eisenhower of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center found a curious pattern of networks calling Gore states quickly, but Bush states slowly. (Take the Florida call and compare it to Alabama, which Bush won by 15 points, yet took almost a half an hour to color in for Bush.) Asked in a new CNN/Time poll, “Did the media act responsibly on election night?”, ?no? said 79 percent, ?yes? replied a mere 17 percent — CBS News anchor Dan Rather claimed: “I would rather walk through a furnace in a gasoline suit than be inaccurate about anything.” Rather must have a lot of burned skin.
Rather than allow their journalistic shame to simply shut them up a bit, they continued to add fuel to the fire. Bold headlines, including ?The Florida Circus: Election by Lawsuit?, ?Gore?s Last Stand?, and ?537?, enthralled American readers to the point where it snowballed and something horrible happened: we stopped caring. We became so agitated and impatient that we stopped caring whom the most powerful man in the world would be; quite a low point in American history. It is amazing to hear people exclaim ?I don?t care who the next president is, I just wish they?d pick someone?. Of course you care! Or at least you should. But, not surprisingly, the media exerted its particular talent to sow antipathy amongst the American people, and embarrassing scorn around the world.
Solutions to these problems are not straightforward. Although the media is largely to blame for the election fiasco, so are the people. The media wouldn?t dish it out if we didn?t soak it up. However, a positive outcome of this election might be the wonders of hindsight, in both the media and the public. Maybe the ignominy won?t have worn off by the time we realize the error of our ways, and, hopefully, put a stop to this perpetuation of journalistic disgrace.