Bush Gets Pass on Ownership Debate


One day after John Kerry dissed the Bush administration's deregulatory philosophy -- Kerry pointed out that he had voted twice to overturn portions of the Federal Communications Commission's deregulation rules -- President Bush was not asked to defend those policies before the same crowd of minority journalists.

Kerry's criticism's had come in response to a question from the audience on consolidation, followed later in the Washington conference by a panel in which the head of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists likened consolidation to apartheid.

Still, Bush did not address nor was he questioned about media consolidation or journalists' biases--another Kerry criticism--during his appearance before the Unity conference, comprising journalists of color.

Bush did say his own hiring practices could set an example for media companies looking to blunt one of the chief criticisms of consolidation--that minorities have few outlets to voice their concerns when conglomerates gobble up the vast majority of broadcast stations, cable channels and newspapers.

"We've got a diverse cabinet, a diverse administration," he told the audience. "I hope that sets an example for people when it comes to hiring--including news organizations." The bulk of the President's talk focused on explaining how his administration's tax cuts, opposition to higher education quotas, school performance measures and other policies are helping minorities in the U.S. "They talk a good game sometimes up here in Washington. We're getting it done."

Bush also told broadcasters that they had an obligation, just as he did, to encourage voter registration.