Tags: Major | Media | Blew

Major Media Blew It

Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM

Exit polls were never designed to determine the actual voter count. They were supposed to be in place in order to ask voters exiting the polls why they voted the way they did.

Instead, competitive news organizations turned exit polls into "scoops" – a way to try and beat the other news organization by being the first to declare a state like Florida. And what a disaster that turned out to be.

It’s time the news media get smart and recognize the destructiveness of prematurely awarding states to a presidential candidate before the outcome is certain.

Watching the major TV networks and cable news companies apologize for screwing up Florida was painful. But seeing conservative Bill Bennett scold the "talking heads" for their networks’ mistake was uplifting. He’s right. A network announcing, with great pomp and circumstance, that Florida went to Al Gore and then having to retract that announcement hours later should never, ever happen.

So ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN and PBS: the ball’s in your court. Hey, you decide to withhold information from us all the time. Years ago, you determined that you wouldn’t reveal the name of most juveniles when they’re charged with crimes. You refuse to identify rape victims, even when it turns out that some of them were lying. So making a unilateral decision to keep your big mouths shut until at least ALL of the polls are closed shouldn’t be a big deal.

There’ll be lots of valuable lessons learned from the election of 2000. One of the most prominent should be the realization that the news media blew it. And they have the chance to correct their dreadful mistake. Let’s see if their arrogance will get in the way of doing the right thing.

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Exit polls were never designed to determine the actual voter count. They were supposed to be in place in order to ask voters exiting the polls why they voted the way they did. Instead, competitive news organizations turned exit polls into scoops - a way to try and beat...
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2000-00-08
Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM
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