News Articles

TWO CENTS

10/08/2000 08:00:00 PM Eastern

"We are all victims of our own decisions, every day of our lives. But we would never say to a politician, 'You'd better not do that speech; it'll make you look really bad,' and no one ever said to Princess Diana, 'Don't go on television and talk about who you slept with and the fact you were unfaithful and that you were

bulimic. 'We never give that advice to rich and wealthy people, so why would we take that stand with the people who aren't as rich or powerful?"

-Jerry Springer, in a Reuters interview defending his show. A version of Springer's show-but a more conventional one in which he chats with celebrities-debuted in Great Britain on Oct. 7.

THE DEBATES

"The debate was on CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, PBS and C-Span. Why was an eighth carrier required, considering that no American was so situated that he or she could see the debate only if NBC carried it?

"If the principle is that Americans should be prevented from watching anything else, then perhaps the civic-minded should hector the government into imposing blackouts on HBO, ESPN, Discovery, Bravo, A & E and the rest. And maybe there should be neighborhood vigilance groups peeking through windows to make sure no one picks up a book during debates."

-Columnist George Will, from The Washington Post

"Remember, you can't get it everywhere."

-ABC's Peter Jennings on the Oct. 3 World News Tonight telecast, subtly informing viewers that ABC, but not all the other networks, were airing the presidential debate later that evening.

"I'll say one thing for the debate. Last night was probably the first and only time that Jim Lehrer's the most exciting person in the room."

-CBS' David Letterman, a day after the presidential debate.

"We're fight promoters, and this was a civics class."

-PBS political analysts Mark Shields and Paul Gigot, (Shields to Gigot referring to themselves) after the vice presidential debate.

"Maybe somebody could have given the candidates a hot foot or put a joy buzzer on their seat."

-Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, complaining that the Lieberman-Cheney debate was too civil.

"Give it a rave."

-CBS' Dan Rather, who, similarly to NBC's Tom Brokaw, said it was the best vice-presidential debate ever.

THE POWERFUL BOX

"Images that pigeonhole the medium dominate any conversation about it; in these views, watching television is thought to be cultural anthropology, mindless escapism, emotional solace or a source of news, sports and, occasionally, art. But it is rarely embraced for doing all of these things at once."

-New York Times writer Caryn James, in a thoughtful essay about the power of the medium.

EXCERPT

In an Oct. 3 New York Times op-ed piece, FCC Chairman William Kennard (l) ripped NBC and FOX for not blanketing their airwaves with the first presidential debate last week. Below is an excerpt:

"The decisions by NBC and FOX are particularly galling in light of the fact that in 1996 Congress gave the television industry the space on the broadcast spectrum needed to offer digital television-valued by some industry experts as worth more than $70 billion. This generous gift came with a caveat: As the broadcasters reap billions from use of the airwaves, they must also serve the public interest.

"Some argue that the networks are right to respond to the viewers who would much prefer watching almost anything other than the first presidential debate. After all, as the broadcasters often remind us, they are in the entertainment business. But as the trustees of the public airwaves, the networks must do more than just entertain; they must also serve the needs of citizens by facilitating an informed democratic process. It is unacceptable that some networks carry the load for others."

March