Date: 17th November 2000

Biased Election Coverage?

Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, said Thursday that he plans to ask the chief executives of the major television networks to appear before his committee next month to answer questions about their election-night coverage.

At a Washington news conference, Tauzin said, "There is a presumption of bias in the reporting and the networks will have a duty when they come before us to overcome that presumption." He claimed that the networks called states for Gore quickly but dragged their feet in reporting Bush victories, leading many voters who had not yet cast their ballots to believe that the election was all wrapped up for Gore and discouraging Bush supporters from casting their ballots in states where polls were still open.

Tauzin, a Republican, said he also wants to ask the network execs about Voter News Service, the company owned by all of the networks (and cable news channels) that provides exit-poll data.

Meanwhile, in letters to Tauzin made public Thursday, top executives at several of the networks denied the congressman's accusations. CNN Chairman Tom Johnson said, "I state categorically there was no intentional bias in the election night reporting." Likewise CBS News President Andrew Heyward said, "The accusation that there was bias in CBS News reporting of election night results is completely without foundation." NBC News released a statement saying that it "prides itself on its standards of fairness and accuracy."

Source: Studio Briefing