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Neutral Title, Biased Article

Reported by Ellen - September 17, 2004 -

Presidential Candidates Out of Press Spotlight? on FOXNews.com is really nothing more than a blatant exercise in Kerry-bashing while pretending to be an article about the campaign in general.

In typical Fox style, the bias starts in the first paragraph:

"It's been 45 days since John Kerry addressed the media en masse; it's been 37 days since he last took questions from the press pool. President Bush's last formal press conference was April 13, although he often takes reporters' questions following policy speeches."

Let's see, the article is dated September 16. By my count, that's 138 days since Bush's last press conference, three times as long as Kerry's period, but isn't it interesting how that comparison is obscured by using the date instead of the day-count? And just in case we noticed the difference, Fox reassures us that Bush "often takes reporters' questions following policy speeches." No mention that the questions are screened in advance. Obviously, that would be unfair to Bush.

A few paragraphs later, Susan Estrich, FOX News political analyst and "veteran Democratic campaign expert" provides this "Democratic" perspective: "The truth is, Kerry's too available. He should have limited (his media availability) a long time ago."

We know this is true because the article goes on to say, "Kerry has, at times, gotten himself in trouble when opening up to the press. One instance came on Aug. 6, when Bush challenged Kerry to answer yes or no to the question of whether he would have supported the invasion of Iraq "knowing what we know now" about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction."

Then we get the "balance" of the Republican perspective: "There is a very simple reason the campaign has made Kerry less accessible: They are afraid of him giving yet another, different, contradictory answer on the war on Iraq or on other issues that the Bush campaign will then use immediately against them," said Erik Potholm, partner with Republican media consulting firm, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm.

We never get the same kind of analysis of Bush's stay-out-of-the-press strategy, just a generic explanation: "'Essentially, what they want reported is the message of the day ... their health care plans or their proposals or what's going on with Iraq,' said Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. 'They don't want the message of the day interfered with or preempted with a question about swift boats or National Guard service or about Kitty Kelley in the midst of the message of the day.'"

Obviously, the candidates are not the only ones who want to make sure their message of the day doesn't get interfered with.