News Articles

Media-bashing ensemble

It's Tweedledee and Tweedledum respecting the First Amendment 10/22/2000 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore didn't approach the topic of sex and violence in the media too differently during their third and final debate last week.

"Government ought to stand on the side of the parents," said Bush, the Republican presidential nominee. "Parents are teaching their children right from wrong, and the message oftentimes gets undermined by the popular culture. You bet there's things that government can do."

Bush suggested a clear ratings system, a family TV hour, Internet filters for computers in public places such as schools and libraries, character education in schools and funding of after-school "faith-based" programs.

Bush said he "doesn't support censorship. But I do believe that we ought to talk plainly to the Hollywood moguls and people who produce this stuff and explain the consequences."

Ultimately, Bush went back to the idea that the best way to protect kids is for parents to spend more time with them.

Gore jumped on the issue, starting by saying, "I care a lot about this."

Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), have appropriated the issue of cleaning up the culture-typically a Republican plank-in this election.

"Parents now feel like you have to compete with the mass culture in order to raise your kids with the values that you want them to have," Gore said.

For his part, Gore said he has worked with Internet service providers to give parents the means not only to filter what kids are seeing online, but also allow them to check where their kids have been on the Internet with one mouse-click. Gore also reiterated that he and Lieberman have given the entertainment industry six months to "clean up its act," or his administration would push the Federal Trade Commission to go after the industry.

He said he has "respect" for the First Amendment, " but I will do something to help you raise your kids without that garbage."

Both candidates will get a national prime time audience on Oct. 27, when they will take a half-hour on FOX to answer the question: "Why should Americans vote for you?"

The answers will be unedited and uninterrupted by commercials. On cable, FOX News Channel will rebroadcast them the next day.

The third debate drew 37.7 million viewers, nearly 10 million less than the first debate, but a bit more than the second. ABC fared the best, with 15.1 million viewers, and CBS had 11.2 million. NBC, which gave its affiliates a baseball game/debate option, drew 12.6 million viewers.