Tauzin pulls Election Night punch

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Networks news heads still are expected to troop up to Capitol Hill next week to talk to Congress about Election Night mishaps, but House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is "taking off the table" the notion that the networks' reporting was biased in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore.

"Our investigators .have found no evidence of misleading or biased reporting," Tauzin said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. Although Tauzin is letting the networks off the hook a bit, he says initial results have found "statistical bias" in Voter News Service's information-gathering methods.

"We have concluded along with the networks' reports that VNS used clearly flawed data models and clearly flawed statistical results," Tauzin said. In their reports, the networks point out that VNS has been using the same models to perform exit polls for the past 30 years, which may skew in favor of Democrats.

Tauzin also criticized the networks for letting their desire to be first outweigh their commitment to be right. "Accuracy and completeness of information were sacrificed to the goals of competition," Tauzin said.

CNN, CBS and NBC already released their internal reports on Election Night. ABC, Fox and NBC now have given Tauzin their results, with all the networks finding that they made critical errors on election night.

Witnesses expected at Tauzin's hearing on Valentine's Day are ABC News president David Westin, NBC News president Andrew Lack, CBS News president Andrew Heyward. Other witnesses will be Ben Wattenberg, James Risser, and Joan Konner, who all authored CNN's report. Tom Goldstein, a consultant who worked on NBC's report, and Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School also are expected to attend. Invited but not confirmed are the heads of Fox News and CNN as well as the heads of Voter News Service and the Associated Press. - Paige Albiniak

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