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Exercise Fairness in Moderation

April 18th, 2008

The results are in from this week’s presidential debate between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama and the loser is… ABC News. Yup, that’s right. While there has been the traditional post-debate analysis on the candidates’ performance and remarks, much criticism has gone to the moderators for what many people are calling their unfair “gotcha” line of questioning.

ABC News’s Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos has received the lion’s share of the anger from viewers for focusing on issues such as Obama’s patriotism and his controversial friends. At one point, Stephanopoulos asked Obama about his former pastor, saying, “Do you think the Rev. Wright loves America as much as you do?” Not surprisingly Obama supporters are crying foul given the moderator’s long history with the Clintons.

It’s just a few dramatic questions; this is par for the course in a presidential election. So why all the hub-bub? It seems this strikes at the heart of what many Americans obviously still hold as sacred: the integrity and impartiality of journalists (or at least the perception of those qualities). It would appear that Stephanopoulos stepped over the line, and he and ABC News are hearing about it.

By this morning, more than 14,000 viewer comments had been posted on the ABC News website, the overwhelming majority critical of the debate moderators, who spent most of the first hour on what Stephanopoulos called “electability questions.”

The outpouring led Stephanopoulos to publicly defend his questions and his journalistic integrity.

“The questions we asked were tough and fair and appropriate and relevant and what you would expect to be asked in a presidential debate at this point,” he said. “The questions we asked … are being debated around the political world every day.”

Well that may be the case George, but apparently people want to debate when and where they feel like without your “slanted” questions. Remember this is America, where people like their trucks big, their pies apple and their journalists unbiased. So a piece of advice: leave the partisanship to FOX News and stick to the real issues. It’s only fair.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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