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Listening to Reporters Instead of Candidates

Reported by Eleanor - September 17, 2004 -

Special Report with Jim Angle substituting for Brit Hume (Sept. 17, 6:00 p.m.) emphasized two stories - the CBS memo story with concentration on Walter Staudt - and the polls.

Staudt, who was mentioned in the "sugar coated"memo, said he never pressed anyone about Bush's performance; and Burkett, who is being accused of providing the memo, declined to comment, claiming that he doesn't trust the media.

Kerry said the Guard units will be called up after the election. The Pentagon denied the charges. Kerry launched a blistering attack on Cheney, saying that he received $2 million from Halliburton. Carl Cameron said that was a fixed amount, and part of Cheney's retirement pay, having nothing to do with the contracts. Kerry talked about the money Halliburton can't account for. He pledged a series of reforms. Cameron said that Edwards would traditionally attack the VP, but he's not doing that. Also, Cheney and Bush's finances are public, while questions remain about Kerry's finances, since his wife won't reveal her tax returns. Then Cameron talked about Kerry's rare press conferences, giving the Kerry report again, and as usual, with positives for Bush.

The Bush coverage was about his lead in the polls; Kerry's mixed signals; Cheney's challenge to Kerry on his positions; Bush's steady, principled leadership; and Kerry labeling the poll an "outlier" showing Bush with a 13 point lead. In a later interview, John McIntyre called the close polls the "outliers" - not the ones giving Bush a large lead. This report was again positive toward Bush, and negative toward Kerry. (Bush's positives are given in the Bush report as expected, but Kerry's negatives somehow wind up in both reports. This is typical Fox reporting.)

In the Iraq report, Powell said that the "terrorists are targeting success." And, Sadam Hussein had the "intention" of restarting weapons development. He never changed his spots. There is no compelling evidence that WMD were transported or buried, but he would have made the weapons later.

During the panel discussion on the polls, Jim Angle, Mort Kondracke, Fred Barnes and Jeff Birnbaum agreed that Bush has solidified his lead over Kerry, and that the battleground states are changing from 20 to 16 states. They gave Bush an average of a five point lead. Birnbaum said the race will narrow, but he wonders how much to believe the polls. Concerns are with people hanging up, and the screening for likely voters. Also, is the attention on the polls keeping us away from what's really going on in the race? Kondracke noted that Kerry has to get "clear" on Iraq, and shift to health care and more solid ground.

Comment: Where Is Bush's clarity on Iraq other than "stay the course?" Deaths and mayhem are increasing daily with no way out. This carnage was supposed to end on June 30. It increased. Now, it's supposed to end when elections happen in January - if people don't get blown up trying to vote. The real issue is that no one is offering a solution, and the 24/7 Viet Nam discussion hides that fact, as well as the domestic disasters not being talked about, or at least the talk not being communicated to the general public. It would be nice if the reporters would spend five minutes on each campaign, just letting the candidates talk - with no comment or assessment of either candidate's performance. Otherwise, everything is screened by reporters, and we don't know what they're actually saying - except for a 20 second film clip. The entire campaign reminds me of the conventions - filtered through the media.