Fallout continues from election

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Broadcasters should provide five minutes of primetime air to every qualified
presidential candidate each night for 30 nights leading up to general elections,
according to recommendations released Tuesday by the National Commission on
Federal Election Reform.

The commission, co-chaired by former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter,
also recommended preventing news organizations from projecting
presidential-election results while the polls remain open in any of the 48
continuous states and, if that does not work, imposing a uniform poll-closing
time or withholding official tallies from news organizations until 11 p.m.

While not endorsing any of the specifics, President Bush said Tuesday that he
'accept[ed] their report and recommend[s] the key principles drawn from the
report as guidelines for meaningful reform.'

Meanwhile, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is still pushing for information on
what really happened at the networks during election-night 2000.

Waxman wants NBC News president and chief operating officer Andrew Lack to
turn over alleged videotapes that show General Electric Co. chairman Jack Welch
telling NBC News brass to call last November's election for then-Texas Gov.
George W. Bush.

In a short letter dated July 11, Waxman asked Lack to answer by July 31
questions raised in a March 15 letter, as well as to provide an 'advertising and
promotional videotape that reportedly documented portions of NBC's
election-night broadcast process.' Lack's response wasn't available by press
time Tuesday night.

During a congressional hearing on network election-night coverage in
February, Waxman asked Lack whether Welch demanded that the network call the
election for Bush and whether a videotape of the event existed.

At the time and in future letters, Lack responded that Welch was in the
newsroom, but he did not pressure any executives.

'To suggest that [Welch] somehow took control of the program and `was
responsible for giving the order to call the election for George W. Bush' is
absurd,' Lack wrote in a Feb. 22 letter. 'I was there and in charge. It just
didn't happen. So there can be no videotape showing that it
did.'

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