Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NBC-TV: Candidates are like Boxers...

by Samantha Pompeo

As the date of the election inches closer and closer, the candidates are being pitted against each other more than ever. After the first presidential debate, where the candidates were treated like boxers sitting in their respective corners, everything on NBC has been John McCain versus Barack Obama. Each side is given a chance, as it should be, to prove how it can one-up the other. And it’s not a subtle tactic by the news organizations.

The presidential debate was the first bell that rang in the boxing match. At the very beginning of the debate, there was a certain invisible blanket that covered the candidates. They greeted each other with a handshake, trying to maintain the fa├žade that they always treat each other with the utmost respect. But, if you go to approximately the 10 minute mark on the debate video below, even the moderator wants the candidates to go head-to-head. When Senator Obama is responding to a comment by Senator McCain, the moderator tells Obama he needs to say the response directly to his competitor. At this command, McCain quips “Are you afraid I couldn’t hear him?”

The jabs continued throughout the debate, as they should. The candidates shouldn't feel that, in order to maintain appearances, they need to pretend to be friendly with one another. It seems that NBC and the other news networks are finally realizing this.

The Today Show is a NBC program that tries to incorporate politics, health, entertainment, and other topics into its four hour time slot. At the beginning of the program on Monday, Matt Lauer introduces a package by Andrea Mitchell about the candidates. The title? "Obama vs. McCain."

The package, like the debate a few days before, pits the candidates against one another. But why now? Why does it seem that all of a sudden, NBC is trying to show that it's a real battle between the presidential nominees? Perhaps the interest in the debate lit a bulb in the cumulative heads of the news managers at the network.

Something I really liked about the package directly above was the fact that Mitchell incorporated the clips from Saturday Night Live into the story. The side-by-side video of the Sarah Palin/Katie Couric interview and the SNL video was genius in that it directly showed the correlation between the interview and the skit. At the end of the package, in Mitchell's live tag, she mentions that Obama VP candidate Joe Biden has had slip-ups as well. But, what are they, specifically? This is something Mitchell doesn't dive into.

Is this a form of candidate discrimination: putting Palin's mistakes for the world to see but only briefly mentioning Biden's? I'm not exactly sure, but no one can argue that the Sarah Palin presented in the Katie Couric interview was something that could not be ignored.

At the ungodly hour of 3:30 in the morning, a rerun of Meet the Press came on NBC. The show was hosted by Tom Brokaw and had the two chief strategists of the campaigns on the show. Like the debate before it, the strategists were given questions about the candidates' policies and told to respond. And, like the debate, the strategists tried to remain civil and friendly for a few minutes until the real issues were presented.

Once again, it was candidate against candidate. But, the strategists weren't trying to impress one another or remain graceful. They were trying to do what they do best: help their candidate win. It was interesting how, throughout the various topics the strategists touched on, the camera would quickly cut to a two-shot of them.

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