As Yogi Berra once said, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." That's kind of the way we felt last week after both candidates took turns bashing the media in their final debate (or as Dan Rather disdainfully called it, "joint appearance"). Gore's was a familiar litany, calling the programming he doesn't like "garbage" and threatening to sic the FTC on the industry if it doesn't clean it up in six months. George Bush, with a couple of caveats about not wanting to be a censor and encouraging parents to parent, still pitched for a family hour and leveled his own threat, saying government should "talk plainly" to Hollywood "moguls" and "explain the consequences," though he did not elaborate.
A few weeks back, we warned about the Democrats' agenda for the media, which includes a reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine and ramped-up public-interest obligations (see story, page 27). Now, at least on the issues of content-chilling government threats, the Republicans are raising some red flags of their own. On the issue of media violence, broadcasters will have to pick their poison in terms of presidential contenders. But on the question of how to address the public's genuine concerns about violence, we vote for Jerry Lee (see below).