Gotham Town Hall – Can ABC Play Fair?

The big news of the day is the joint invite from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ABC News to host the first town hall meeting of the general election. Now, I hope you will pardon me if I don’t show the same level enthusiasm toward this prospect that some seem ready to proffer. You see, it was less than a month ago that ABC News hosted what was arguably the most tabloid, partisan, hack-job of a debate in the era of modern politics.

Tom Shales of the Washington Post put it best when he said…

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other’s running mate, “to both of you,” which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, “Don’t all speak at once.”

For that matter, the running-mate question that Gibson made such a big deal over was decidedly not a big deal — especially since Wolf Blitzer asked it during a previous debate televised and produced by CNN.

The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network’s Sunday morning hour, “This Week” (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly “World News”), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was “40 years ago, when I was 8 years old,” Obama said with exasperation.

And if you think ABC News has since seen the error of their ways pardon me but you are crazy. Just last week ABC’s Nightline ran this ridiculous Jake Tapper hit piece couched as a bit of light-hearted humor.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2kT2-SAvSA[/youtube]

With this kind of track record and the responsibility of kicking off the tone of the general election on the line does anyone in their right mind think ABC News can be trusted to run a fair town hall? Seriously? I personally think ABC News has proven itself to be worse than FoxNEWS during this cycle. At least at Fox they have given up trying to hide their bias.

Hat tip to ihavenobias for the Nightline video.

UPDATE: It looks like both camps decided to say not so fast to ABC.

One Response to “Gotham Town Hall – Can ABC Play Fair?”

  1. Tom says:

    This sums up the problems with ABC perfectly. Thank you for posting this!

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