Friday, September 19, 2008

NBC Palin Gets a Pass and What's Missing

by Stine Eckert

During the last week of NBC Nightly News online coverage I concentrated on the videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics section as well as on the First Read blog , which is part of MSNBC. The Daily Nightly blog authored by NBC anchor Brian Williams and colleagues only offered short previews of the evening news but didn't add information.

Unfortunately barely new video was uploaded from Nightly News over the weekend. During the pre-election season NBC could step up their efforts to provide continued and consistent coverage online no matter if weekday or weekend.

The worst was the negligence of discussing issues by the NBC Nightly News since the focus almost was exclusively on Republican vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin (Alaska): her effect on McCain, the lipstick on a pig metaphor, her first interview and her first solo trip until news broke about the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Surprisingly Palin coverage did not include criticism by NBC. As the First Read blog put it, other than the Saturday Night Live skit and ABC's Charlie Gibson's stubborn style of interviewing her on uncomfortable issues there hasn't been a tough look at her. Some of her approaches to policies stay vague such as her stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriages. (In Germany where I am from, she is viewed more critically).

Another general disappointment is the ignorance of third party candidates by NBC Nightly News online. They are part of the political landscape and should be reflected in the news for instance the Green Party's all female ticket with black candidate Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente.

After the Palin hype died down, brutal reality brought back the most obvious issue to talk about, the economy. Other issues were neglected in favor of citing the latest polls, attacks, campaign ads. Other issues touched upon (in reference to Sarah Palin's ABC (mal)performance) health care and some vague foreign policy mentions.

What about a science debate? Science as a provider for hard facts is neglected by candidates,despite the fact that many decisions (sustainable energy, climate change, foreign policy strategy) depend on basic and applied research. There was also no discussion about education apart from the fact that Sarah Palin wants to teach what is called creationism in schools.

The best coverage came from the First Read blog which dared to speak out NBC's velvet glove approach to Saran Palin. This blog offered several detailed and extended posts a day picking up on issues that were neglected on the network' evening newscast website for instance Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden's (Delaware) tax returns or the mix up of absentee ballots in Ohio.

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