Saturday, October 09, 2004


ABC "Not Equally Accountable" Fiasco

An internal memo written by ABCNEWS Political Director Mark Halperin has sparked a furore. Here's what it says, excepting that I have removed the candidates' names and substituted a generic "Candidate 1" and "Candidate 2" respectively.

Read it; then tell me this: would you trust ABC to give you unbiased coverage of the election?

Halperin Memo Dated Friday October 8, 2004

It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns - and our responsibilities become quite grave

I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today - nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Candidate 1 attacks on Candidate 2 involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Candidate 2 has done.

Candidate 2 distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Candidate 1 efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Candidate 2 at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Candidate 2 to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

And now, for those of you who're curious, here's the original, including the candidates' names. Does it matter?