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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/22/08

News Flash: Network Anchor Stands Against "Unfair" Campaign Spending

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There was real emotion in his voice when ABC News anchor Charles Gibson used Friday night’s newscast to stand up for little-guy McCain against online-fundraising-powerhouse Barack Obama. By opting out of public financing, Gibson intoned, the Democrat could obtain “two times, three times, four times, as much money as John McCain.”

 

“Let me ask you a question about basic fairness,” Gibson implored of chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos. “People in this country like to believe that people play on a level playing field and that a campaign will be about ideas and personality; if you start with that much more money, is it basically fair?”

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It was more a statement than a question, like Brit Hume anchoring at Fox. (ABC has gone Fox-like in crusading over “Obama’s Switch” and “Back Flip” and “Flip-Flop” on public financing.)

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Gibson’s egalitarian “fretting” about fairness was too much for right-wing media critic Brent Baker, who belittled the anchor AND McCain: “If Obama can raise more than his opponent, it just reflects greater enthusiasm for him. And there's hardly any nobility in taking taxpayer money when you know you'll be challenged to raise a larger amount voluntarily.”

 

To me, the good news is that a network anchor was giving prominence to the plight of underfinanced candidates.

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The bad news is that it’s taken years to see an anchor make such a stand. And that Gibson (like other media voices in recent days) is making his stand for “fairness” against a candidate who has attracted 3 million contributions from 1.5 million donors giving an average donation of $91. In other words, against a candidate who is arguably less beholden to big-moneyed interests than McCain. (The Gibson clip is at  click here and Liars.)

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Jeff Cohen was director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he was an associate professor of journalism. He founded the progressive media watch group FAIR.org in 1986.

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