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You DON'T Decide

Reported by Nancy - September 24, 2004 -

FNL has been using the tag line "You Decide 2004" to describe their ongoing coverage of the 2004 presidential campaigns, but that's not the choice they offered viewers this morning (9/24).

When I tuned in at 10:51am (EDT), there was live coverage of a speech Kerry was giving at Temple Univ in Philadelphia. MSNBC & CNN were also carrying this live. FNL continued this coverage for a while, although their selection of banners to run underneath was typically skewed. For example, as "Fox News Alerts" they chose to show banners saying "Kerry will go after terrorist finances" & "Kerry: we'll make US independent from mideast oil". But they didn't banner his statement about going after Saudi Arabia.

At 11:19am (EDT), in the midst of Kerry's speech, FNL went to a split-screen with Brigitte Quinn on the left (smaller) side talking about how Kerry was "straying" from his prepared speech -- he addressed the issue of AIDS raised by an audience member -- with Kerry's speech on the right (larger) side but with the audio so muted viewers couldn't hear what he was saying. Quinn then announced that Bush was making a statement about the recent tragedy in Beslan, Russia. FNL cut to live coverage of this Bush "event" while MSNBC & CNN continued to broadcast Kerry's speech live.

Bush's "event" turned out to be a generic photo op at the White House with some kids from a school in DC who had raised funds for schoolkids in Beslan, a 7th-grader from another school who had done the same, the head of the US Red Cross, & the Russian Ambassador. Bush's comments included the word "compassion" over & over, & he mentioned not only Beslan but also the hurricane victims in Florida [comment: but not the 1000+ dead hurricane victims in Haiti]. His statement ended at 11:22am (EDT), but FNL [comment: as usual] continued to show video of Bush walking around shaking hands while Quinn did a voice-over reiterating the "compassion" agenda. MSNBC & CNN were still broadcasting Kerry's speech live.

FNL couldn't even come up with dramatic "Fox News Alert" banners during this "event". They had to go with the obvious: "Pres Bush meets kids who raised supplies for Beslan children" & "Pres Bush remarks on impending hurricane".

At 11:23am (EDT), FNL went to James Rosen for a report from the White House. This consisted largely of Bush's itinerary (leaving the White House now, going to WI, then to Crawford to prep for the debate next week). MSNBC & CNN were still broadcasting Kerry's speech live.

At 11:25am (EDT), back in the studio, Quinn began interviewing Brad Blakeman (GOP) & Jack Quinn (Dem) about Kerry's speech. MSNBC & CNN were still broadcasting Kerry's speech live. [comment: Quinn should have taken the opportunity to point out that the speech was still ongoing while they were being asked to critique it, but like a good little FNL guest, didn't.]

MSNBC & CNN broadcast Kerry's speech live thru to its conclusion at 11:30am (EDT).

Comment: "You Decide"? Not on FNL, you don't. Kerry's speech was excellent, hard-hitting & well-received (numerous interruptions for standing ovations). He handled the one interruption I saw -- when the audience member raised the issue of AIDS -- brilliantly, incorporating it into his prepared remarks, something that Bush is clearly incapable of doing. Kerry addressed a lot of topics that must be extremely uncomfortable for FNL -- e.g., terrorist financing, citing his investigation of BCCI & the resulting shutdown of that particular operation, with its links to GHW Bush. Rather than let their viewers see & hear any more of this potentially dangerous (to Bush) material, FNL chose to "cover" one of the lamest photo ops in an administration famous for lame photo ops.