Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MSNBC-TV: Obama Wins! (We Think)

by Brooks Jarosz

With only seven days left until the presidential election, the campaigns are continuing their promotional travels. Meanwhile, the news media, especially MSNBC, has been choosing a winner. They sight political polls showing Barack Obama is leading by numerous points. even if the polls are based on reliable sampling, I find it disturbing that different commentators are placing bets.

While I don't agree with many of these so-called journalists, I did get a kick out of what Keith Olbermann said last night. He said the best metaphor to describe the McCain campaign was that his car was running out of gas, which actually happened. That is in addition to the media bus covering Governor Sarah Palin, that broke down on the side of the road.

Rachel Maddow Says Polls Don't Tell the Whole Story
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow compared the two campaigns to football statistics. Quite creative AND dead-on in my opinion. When a person has a candidate he or she likes, they fail to realize what the rhetoric means. As a result, both sides think their campaign is doing the best. Looking at both campaigns from a different perspective only helps my understanding of the candidates. Later in Maddow's segment, she talks with Democratic Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell, about Barcak Obama's campaign strategies.

Just Serve the People Honestly!
MSNBC likes to debate and discuss issues that should not matter to the average Americans. "Hardball" first brought up a number of comments by other publications talking down Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. Then, Chris Matthews brought up reasons to believe why the McCain campaign could be crumbling. Two other people spoke with Matthews regearding the issues, but included more of their own opinions than the facts. I feel like the lines have been tremendously blurred, causing journalists to give their opinions. I wish we could spend more time on producing a well-balanced and honest show with the facts.

ABC.COM: What if...?

Nina Wieczorek

...Barack Obama moves into the White House? What if he doesn't? What will be the consequences for the people in the United States and its image in the world, for the economy, health care, immigration, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.?

Over the last several months we've gotten an idea of what each candidate would do if he was elected, but which of these goals are actually doable? Which depend too much on lobbies, money and other relations so that they can only be done with major changes, if at all? Which suggestions are more retorical promises than seriously meant to be realized?

This, of course, we won't get to know until after the election, but the general 'What if...?' game can already be played.

Celebrity Relations...

How did he do that? In all, Obama could raise more than $600M, while John McCain only achieved $358M. And so many celebrities endorsed Obama, that his opponents already describe him as a celebrity as well. Sometimes they paid as much as $30,000 at one of those fundraiser parties. And in this recent article called "Stars speak out about the Hudson tragedy" he is even pictured next to Fergie...

But, it's not just Obama, Sarah Palin also got a lot of 'celebrity' type coverage during the last few weeks. Some even want to have her hosting a show of her own.

Politics and showbiz - a relationship founded on money and publicity, what does that do to the credibility of those who govern the people?

Not Present
Especially in comparison to the media attention Sarah Palin got, Joe Biden is not just underrepresented, he's ignored. It's really astonishing how little coverage there was on him on abc.com. Why? Is he not controversial enough? Doesn't he look good enough? Or are his clothes not expensive enough?

Palin was praised, and then bashed by the media, while Biden got really very little attention.

Who'll Go?
That's a good question, but this one won't be answered before next week. How will the youth vote turn out? Will all the young people who have registered make the effort to go and vote? What about the rarely mentioned issue of racism? Will this play a role?

Not from abc.com, but from cnnbcvideo.com is this video...a scenario from the democratic perspective about what might happen, when people stay home. :)

NBC-TV: T-minus Seven Days

by Samantha Pompeo

A few days ago, I was reading an article about how news media will react to the end of the elections. The question was posed about what networks like NBC will talk about when the president-elect is decided. It made me think about how much of a news program's rundown is based on the election. Looking at any "Nightly News," it's obvious that multiple minutes are devoted to what's going on on the campaign trail. And with only a few short days until voters head to the polls, NBC is making last minute attempts to help undecided voters decide.

There may not be a lot of time left before the end of the campaign, but a lot has happened in the meantime. On the Today Show, there was a wonderful long package about the road to the White House. It seems to focus more on Obama than McCain, but that could be because Obama had to fight for his spot as the Democratic candidate.

And then today, the Matt Lauer talked to NBC's chief political director about polls.

But with so little time left, why are we focusing on polls? With so little time left, shouldn't the focus be on where the candidates are, what they're saying, and how the campaigns are wrapping up? I feel like I'm repeatedly asking the same question: where are the issues? But as a journalist, I have to remember the bottom line: ratings. Will the issues bring in ratings? Maybe not, but they're what the campaign is and should be about. And networks like NBC should do their best to help inform and educate the viewer, regardless of how the ratings may fair.

T-minus seven days until the historic decision. This is when the fun begins.

ABC-TV: Campaigns Coming to a Close

Monique Ozanne

Ted Stevens
Convicted on seven felony counts for not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported gifts, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is asking his colleagues, as well as Alaska voters to stand by his side as he appeals the charges. We know for sure that one Republican senator will not be supporting Stevens. Republican presidential nominee John McCain is asking Stevens to resign. The 84-year old Stevens is up for re-election in next week's November 4th elections and if re-elected he could be expelled by the Senate. McCain calls for Stevens resignation because he says Stevens has "broken his trust with the people." McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has not called for Stevens resignation, but says that she "is confident he will do what is right for the people of Alaska."

My question is, what about the Republican party? Something else that must be considered is what does this dismissal mean for the Democratic party? Does this allow for Democrats to campaign against the GOP like they did in 2006? ABC's George Stephanopuolos asks this question in his blog, and finds that if Stevens loses Alaska that it means one seat lost for the Republicans, and possibly one gained on the other side.

Early Voting
What an astonishing concept. One in ten registered voters has taken advantage of the opportunity to vote early and avoid the long lines on election day. Along with the surprising number of voters who have voted early, these same people are showing strong support for Obama. For those skeptics who need the "hard facts" on this statement, ABC News has teamed up with The Washington Post to produce an updated document with charts, and questions -- something that I will be checking daily from now until the 4th.

Until one of the candidates shows a strong lead on November 4th, the media will be very hesitant, and should be wary of calling the election. It is important to continue to be a good citizen and keep reading articles, blogs, reports, and keep track of polls. Polls are something Americans should treasure, and look to as another form of democracy and form of representation from their fellow citizens. We are lucky in this country to have polls as a resource to gather information. Although they have high significance, and are what many news outlets are basing their stories off of these last few days, we must still treat them as what they are.

Alleged Plot
Since May 3, the secret service has followed Obama on his campaign trail, which is the earliest the service service has been with any presidential candidate. We now understand why. Federal authorities have reported that they foiled a plot that involved an assassination plan to kill Barack Obama. The plot involved two men with reported links to the white supremacist movement.

The last time I was home, I spent a little bit of time with my mother in a salon while she got a haircut. While I was waiting I began talking to a woman who was waiting next to me. For whatever reason she felt comfortable enough with me to begin discussing the upcoming presidential election. Timidly, she told me that she is afraid to vote for Obama because she is afraid she will contribute to his "eventual assassination". I was pretty perplexed by her response, until I realized that she was from the same generation of voters who loved and supported JFK before his assassination. And she began to tell me that she is so afraid to get her hopes ups, and have something tragic happen like it did with JFK.

I did not have a response for her, but I did come to my own conclusions about this election. This election is truly historic, and especially for those who have seen and heard so many over the past decades; I now understand how important this election is for so many. Obama is finishing his campaign with soaring speeches, while McCain is adamant about his attacks on liberal v. conservative and safe v. risky. In these last few days we might see the campaigns coming down to these small, "little things that may wind up to be big things," which is what ABC talks about in the latest article of The Note. For now we can just track the polls, follow the trails, and anticipate the results on November 4th.

MSNBC.com: Problems in the Spotlight

Jaime Baker

As the election looms closer, bad press is coming out of the closet for everyone involved. The big news of the week was Alaska Senator Ted Stevens being convicted on seven counts of corruption. Now John McCain is asking him to step down, saying Stevens has broken his trust with the people. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has also chastised Stevens, saying he needs to step down from his position.

Another bit of bad news came out of Tennessee this week. Two Neo-Nazis had a plan to murder Barack Obama that was foiled by police. They also had a plan to massacre about 88 people, beheading 14 of them. 88 and 14 are symbolic numbers in white supremacy.

This really highlights an major issue in the campaign--how many people are silently voting against Barack Obama because of his race? One question this raises is how skewed are the poll numbers by people who say they will vote for Obama, or that race doesn't matter, but in actuality, when they get into the voting booth can't pull the lever for a black man.

Fox News Channel: Stepping up their game

By Allison Herman

I have been particularly impressed with what Fox News Channel has been doing with its election coverage this past week, and I believe this is because I’ve changed when I’m watching Fox News. Normally I watch in the evenings, but watching in the mornings is incredibly different. The anchors are anchors, not commentators throwing in their two cents all the time. And the way they were reading their stories and interacting with their guests was really great. So for great news coverage for the election, watch early.

That being said, I normally don’t care for polls. There are so many, they’re all different, and I hardly believe that they’re accurate or tell you much of anything 4 months before the election. But at this point in the game, one week before people are actually going to vote, I think they’re much more interesting and much more informative - even if the numbers are still fluctuating in these final days. So, I was pleased when Fox took half a minute out of their newscast to show the latest numbers in the key swing states.

What I also really liked was that while Barack Obama and John McCain were both campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Fox had live feeds from both of their speeches. I was a little surprised though when they showed both of the speeches nearly in their entirety. I figured they would show 5 minutes or so, but sure enough they showed the whole thing. I guess that’s a luxury of a 24 hour news network, but it's one they don't take advantage of often enough.

FoxNews.com: Countdown to Election Night

by Alex Mazer

Looking at the Fox News website this week, one particular article that caught my eye the most was "Government Foils Skinhead Plot to Assassinate Obama." This is a prime example of how elections get out of hand. People are crossing extreme boundaries.

The two young men who were plotting the Obama assassination not only planned to attack him but also more than 100 African American students. It's a little ridiculous that now innocent people are being threatened because of a presidential race.

Personally, I think the best man will will and it shouldn't matter what his skin color is or how old he is and it shouldn't even come down to his name. I think the man the country beleives will run our country best will be the one to win the race. And there is nothing anyone can do to change that, at least there shouldn't be.

This week I have also noticed that the Fox Elections page is getting a little more interactive. At the bottom of the page there is a tracker for all viewers of the website to view their own state elections. I think this is a good idea to get people to visit the site more often because they can now look at all election coverage on one site.

There is also an election countdown towards the bottom of the page, which I think is a good idea to have because it gets people excited about the election. Personally, I like to know the time left until an event is about to occur, I'm sure there are many other people who like this feature as well.

I also like the ads in the top right corner of the page. One of the ads that appears in that space encourages people to get an absentee ballot to vote and offers a link to click in order to get to the right place to request one.

Monday, October 27, 2008

CNN-TV: The "Magic Map" and Angry Joe

by Christina London

It seems like it's been going on forever, but can you believe that the presidential election is only one week away? CNN is ready...and the people there want you to know they're ready. This week, the Cable News Network has devoted quite a bit of airtime to explaining exactly how it plans to cover election results.

That Magical Map
In my opinion, CNN has always been the most innovative among the networks when it comes to covering Election Night. But next Tuesday, it will take interactive election coverage to new heights with what is being called the "Magic Map." It's basically an enormous touch-screen picture of the United States; whenever CNN's John King touches a particular state, the map zooms in and gives him all the important election information about that state.

Some people are giving CNN flak for the map, including those over at Saturday Night Live:

So is the "Magic Map" a useful tool for conveying information, or is it just overkill? Personally, I think the map will be effective, especially for visual learners. I also like the fact that viewers can "play along" at home. With the Electoral Calculator, people can update their maps after CNN calls each state and can even create "what if" scenarios by turning any state red or blue.

"Are you joking?"

It seemed like every CNN talk show this weekend was discussing Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden. It's because of an interview Biden did with Barbara West of WFTV in Florida on Saturday. During the Q and A, West quoted Karl Marx and asked, "How is Obama not being a Marxist if he plans to spread the wealth around?" To this, Biden laughed and asked, "Is that a real question?" Take a look:

Monday night on Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper posed the question, who was out of line: the politician or the news anchor? In my opinion, it was West. If you watch the whole interview, you'll see that she was trying to get Biden to argue. For instance, she asked, "Aren't you embarrassed by the blatant attempts to register phony voters by ACORN, an organization that Barack Obama has been tied to in the past?" The way she phrased this question really makes her appear biased. She should have asked, "What is your take on the ACORN situation?" or "I know Barack Obama has been tied to ACORN in the past...how do you feel about the current controversy?" In my view, she came into the interview with a "I'm gonna get him" attitude, not a neutral approach, as a journalist should.

What do you think? Do you think Biden or West or both acted inappropriately?

CNN.com: Early voting turnouts reach record; Small business owners need to decide

by: Julie Hartz

Early Voters Weigh In
It's just a week away, and early voting has already had record turnouts for this year's election.

In Georgia alone, nearly a fifth of all voters have already voted.
This year, 31 states are allowing their voters to either vote early in person. This all in an effort to avoid the massive issues we faced in 2004 in Ohio and other states.

In my opinion, early voting is the way to go. Election day is going to be total mayhem no matter how prepared the separate precincts are, so why not take a few minutes tomorrow to vote? I did it just this morning, and to be honest, it was the most fulfilling experience I could ever imagine having when voting. I simply walked into the Board of Elections, and 10 minutes later was on my merry way. So make your life...and the lives of those working at the polls...a little easier next Tuesday and get your vote in early!

Small Business Owners Still in Toss-up
But those who aren't quite ready to cast their vote are taking the extra time to consider what each candidate will do for them...and their country.

One targeted group of each candidates' latest campaign has been small business owners. And according to CNN.com, they're not quite sure who to vote for just yet. Barack Obama talks to Ohioans in Canton about the economic crisis and McCain's financial plan.

Even though Obama thinks McCain's financial plan is more of the same, McCain says Obama's plan is going to spread the wealth of those who've earned it their entire lives.

Now if you are a small business owner and are still in a toss-up about the election, CNNMoney offers an Election 2008 special about where each candidate stands on your money and the election.

CBSNews.com: The Last Few Days

by Cristina Mutchler

Backing Barack
We've all heard reports that presidential candidate Barack Obama is the biggest fundraiser in this election. But I had no idea exactly how MUCH he was fundraising, and who he is getting this money from. In the beginning of their campaigns, both candidates promised to keep their fundraising to a minimum. But Obama broke the record of coming in as the greatest political fundraiser ever, with more than $603 million, as opposed to the $358 million that McCain has raised.

Another interesting tidbit on the Obama fundraising subject is that he has also gotten more money from unidentified donors than anyone in history, with people giving way over the federal limit amount! In a week, we will find out if all of that fundraising was enough to help Barack win the vote.

Breaking Off from Bush
John McCain announced that he would NOT be embarking on President Bush's economic policies, and instead, will be going another route. McCain promised to place strict controls over government spending, thus protecting savings, retirement accounts, and helping to raise the stock market once again. The candidate also promised to create millions of jobs through tax cuts that will in turn help the economy. Watch McCain's pledge to help U.S. citizens and the economy below.

Presidential Questions
This week, presidential candidates McCain and Obama answered questions about an issue that politicians sometimes face- infidelity. CBS News anchor Katie Couric wondered why so many politicians in the public eye risk not only their relationships but their credibility by being unfaithful to their spouse. Obama's answer? He's even cautious about picking his nose, because being in the public eye, you have to expect that every one's watching you. McCain, on the other hand, seemed more concerned with not judging past politicians who have cheated on their spouses, even quoting one of the biblical ideas of "judge not."

Watch the complete answers below and judge for yourself!

NBC News.com: Increased Quantity for Same Quality

by Stine Eckert

For this blog I concentrate on NBC News.com's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics section as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.

Similar to last week the number of video clips about the U.S. election campaign has been high in number: The politics section of the NBC Nightly News online player is currently featuring election campaign video only. If a Martian would look into the list, it would think there is nothing else happening in the country. Isn’t there a current administration still working? Ah, of course, it’s this Bush person who we only hear about in connection with...the election! In an October 24, 2008 video we briefly can see the President Bush voting for his successor.

For quality not a whole lot has changed, there is the detailed campaign trail coverage, who is where when saying what; the polls get their prominent share of attention and so do red-blue-yellow map;, issues are discussed marginally even the economy has moved somewhat to the back burner.

A Complete Trilogy -- McCain/Palin Interview on NBC
Finally the trilogy is complete and Sarah Palin has honored the third of the broadcast networks with a seven minute interview uploaded October 24, 2008. Brian Williams did a nice job in staying on the question of when she is going to release her medical records after she tried to evade the question for the first time. To his second direct question on this issue she replied: “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I had five children, that’s going to be in the medical records. I’ve never been seriously ill or hurt, you’ll see that in the medical records IF they’re released.” There you go, Brian.

The other part of the interview included John McCain who spoke about his underdog position. In the same joint interview session Sarah Palin defines who is a terrorist, and both voiced their reaction to Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama.

John McCain: “I know that if General Powell had wanted to meet Governor Palin, we could have arranged that easily. […]”
Sarah Palin: “You received the endorsement of four former secretaries of state…”
John McCain: ”Five former secretaries of state.”
Sarah Palin: “Five, and hundreds of top military brass.”

Early Voting Nationwide
This October 24 report wraps up the early voting movement nationwide. With programs such as “vote & vacs” people get flu shots while doing their duty as citizens in a participatory democracy overall boosting voting records. By the way, President Bush and his wife have already voted, too.

Why A Palm Tree in the Background Is Not Enough -- A Rather Useless Live Shot
By now most people following the campaign coverage know about Barack Obama's family. Surprisingly, even his grandmother got some coverage this week as the senator flew to Hawaii to pay her a visit because she is ill. But also NBC’s Lee Cowan hurried to Honolulu: with water, wind, and a palm tree in the background, he mainly commented on a bunch of photos and some short video of Barack Obama boarding a plane. It is interesting to see how travel budgets for journalists are allocated for a few seconds of live scenes that say nothing but “I was here.”

Where They Stand On Free Trade & Homeland Security

Two more pieces haven been added to NBC’s Where They Stand collection, an October 24 video on free trade and a comparison on the candidates stance toward homeland security of October 26.
NBC’s short clips of about 2 ½ minutes give brief overviews complete with bullet point lines. It’s good to see that issues still do play a role.

Voting in Nevada – A Republican State Gone Toss-Up

The Daily Nightly blog added some interesting background information about Latino voters in Nevada and other states ending on the note that Latin Americans feel if Obama wins, a Latino might, too in the future.

Another state in the focuse... a four minute report examined the swing-y state Colorado, which just as NBC’s toss up report was over seemed have decided for Obama (as according to the same sources has Virginia reducing the number of undecided states from eight to six).

But like NBC’s anchor Lester Holt put it: “Of course all of this could change between now and election day.” That’s another reason why concentrating on the issues is more useful to voters (i.e. serving the public) than clicking the refresh button every second on polls and maps.

Sideline Issues -- Ted Stevens and International Attention
At the sidelines Republican Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens has been found guilty on all seven accounts of giving false information about free gifts worth $250,000 he received, most of it connected to renovating Stevens’ house.

Looking into the international mirror: Foreign journalists report about the U.S. election including France and Al-Jazeera.

Confusing Dates

Especially with the McCain/Palin interview I noticed an annoying feature of online video clips. Albeit the NBC Nightly News player is kind enough to give a summary of the video and a date when mousing over the thumbnail (unlike undated CBS Evening News clips) I've always wondered what the date stands for: the time of uploading or the time the event took place (that didn't seem to work out some clips). Video clips sometimes lack meta information about when an event happened if it is not mentioned within the video. Occasionally no date is listed at all and there is no anchor to guide you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ABC.COM: Palin, Nails, and Pumpkins

Nina Wieczorek

Carve, Baby, Carve
My nose froze immediately as I stepped out of the door into the ice cold morning air. Sunlight still hadn't touched anything and besides a chipmunk – which is actually THE chipmunk as I see it every day at the same place – there was no one to hear or to see. Until I turned around to take the steps downstairs...I moved my head but my still tired eyes were glued to a shining orange pumpkin in front of my neighbor's door. The motive they chose to carve into this little fruit tells more about them than just their artistic skills. It's Obama's campaign-for-change-sign.

Express Yourself
Besides pumpkins people found other creative ways to express their political feelings. Some paint the image of their favourite candidate on their nails or trash cans...

Persistent Campaigning
Perhaps they saw the pumpkin the other day when the people campaigning for the democratic candidate knocked on my appartment door – not for the first time. Once they want you to register, then to volunteer in their campaign. Engagement is good, but can't there also be too much?

The Numbers Mark the Difference

You can't have too much money or polling points, and John McCain could use both. In recent polls he is 9 points behind his rival and also in money raising he is not doing as well as Obama is. It's really remarkable how many stars back Obama and raise money for him and support him.

ABC-TV: Final Debate - McCain, Obama, and Joe the Plumber

Monique Ozanne

He has given a visual to the term 'overnight celebrity'. Just days after ABC traveled to Holland, Ohio to follow Obama as he talked to local residents, Joe the Plumber, more correctly known as Sam Joe Wurzelbacher, became the focal point of the last presidential debate.

I take special interest in the Joe story because I remember watching the conversation on ABC last week as they traveled through Ohio. I remember seeing Obama talk with this man who expressed his uncertainty about Obama's campaign. At the time I did not think too much of the interview, except that this man was the only interviewee to question Obama and express his concern about what Obama's possible presidency would do for him.

Within days this man went from an interview to an important topic in the final debate. October surprise? Probably not. But Joe the plumber being mentioned 23 times during the debate did come as a surprise to many viewers and journalists. Following the debate ABC's Diane Sawyer brought Joe back into the spotlight to interview him about his reaction to being such a hot topic.

During his interview with Sawyer, Wurzelbacher did not reveal who he was going to vote for, but encouraged people to remain educated and listen during these remaining few weeks. As far as being known as Joe the Plumber, Wurzelbacher said that his son was into the title, and he himself thought it was kind of neat.

Colin Powell Endorses Obama
On Sunday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president during his appearance on Meet the Press.

Powell sees Obama as a transformational figure and new generation. Powell is concerned about McCain's choice of Sara Palin for VP, and said over the past few weeks he has seen that she is not ready to be Vice President. He said over the past weeks watching Obama, he has seen excitement and vigor, and sees Biden as a vice president that is ready to serve in office on day one.

Powell also criticized McCain for his ads, and sees the negative campaigning addressing problems that are not central to the American people, and becoming too narrow. It was obvious Powell thought out and had prepared his reasons for endorsing Obama. On the issue of race, Powell also expressed how upset he was to see the attacks on Obama stemming from the Ayers scandal, and the claims of Obama being a Muslim. Powell defends Obama by saying he is and has always been a Christian, but what would be the problem if he was in fact a Muslim. Powell later goes on to answer the question of race in choosing Obama as his endorsement, and defends himself by saying that if he were choosing Obama solely based on race, he would have made his decision six to eight months ago.

Two Weeks and Counting...
With exactly two weeks left until the election, my thoughts are filled with stress and emotion. I find myself staying up late into the night reading articles that are published hourly about what the candidates are doing and where they are. I continue to keep track of the updates on the latest scandals and claims made against each party. The closer November 4 gets, the hungrier I get for information and my excitement grows. But then I turn on my TV, and see negative ads and find myself once again frustrated and disappointed, and think that all the reading and researching I have done is a waste. No matter how much we try to educate ourselves and rise above the negativity, something will find us and try to bring us down. So today, and hopefully for the next two weeks, I will take Joe's advice and just listen, remain educated, and keep my head above the sewage.

NBC News.com: Finally Some Third Party Flavor

by Stine Eckert

For this blog I concentrate on NBC News.com's videos in the Latest Program, Web Only, and Politics sections as well as on the First Read blog, which is part of MSNBC.

Surprise, Surprise (This Time a Real One) – 16 minute Ralph Nader Interview
After Senator Joe Biden’s suprising visit in Athens, OH – where this blog project is located – sparked lots of local and some national reports, one of my wishes for election coverage was somewhat fulfilled. (Of course one can always wish for more consistency.)

But on Tuesday, October 20, 2008 I was really stunned to find a 16 minute interview with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader in NBC’s Nightly News web only section. Even better it was not just some interview but NBC's Ron Allen’s questioning starts off pointedly: “You can’t win the presidency, why do you keep doing this?” Allen follows his rather aggressive path throughout the whole interview on corporate politics, tipping the election in 2000, his chances to win any state, on mass media treatment of him, election results, and what it takes to convince him to drop out of the current race. I kept thinking what axe does Allen have to grind with the old man? Seldomly, I have seen an interview in which the attitude of the journalist is so palpable. But see for yourself.

Here’s the 16 minute expanded interview (which is really worth watching):

For a short time brush up on Nader, here’s a typical 2 minutes television clip:

By the way, did you know that Ralph Nader’s native language is Arabic, his parents came from Lebannon, he graduated from Princeton University and Havard Law School and served in the U.S. army? For some more Ralph Nader 101 (a la Wikipedia)please click here. By the way his running mate Matt Gonzalez's biography is presented in English and Spanish on their campaign’s website.

How about a follow up featuring other third party candidates and a background piece on the obstacles they face in general in U.S. politics and elections?

Suprise No. 2 -- Colin Powell endorses Obama and NBC Presents a Great Soundbite
That’s the stuff I want to see on the Internet, a great extended interview with Colin Powell. For seven minutes he shares in a very intelligent and articulate way his fresh thoughts on how he weighed Sens. McCain and Obama against each other as well as the development of the Republican party to come to the conclusion that Obama is the best man for the U.S. Don’t miss out on this well spoken endorsement by Republican former Secretary of State General Colin Powell.

Last, but not least...
...to make this surprise party complete, a piece about the Republican side, an October 16, 2008 portrait of Todd Palin and his tentacles in Alaskan politics beyond just serving tea as a spouse of a state official.

When will we hear more about Jill Biden?

Back to Business as Usual - Last Debate Coverage
An incredible flurry of at least two dozen videos surrounded THE debate on NBC.com. In addition to a clip featuring the whole 90 minutes of the event, NBC broke the debate into topical sections such as abortion, “the real McCain”, and of course Joe, the (non)-plumber. Also among the plenty, an eleven minute interview with John McCain’s senior campaign advisor Brian Jones...

…and a five minute clip with six demographically-correct guinea pigs probed for their feelings and thoughts after the debate. However, NBC’s Ann Curry cuts a little bit of a teacher figure hovering awkwardly above them on a high chair in an artificial living room stage set. She first roll calls them, asks for hands on such questions as: “Who thinks John McCain was stronger on the economy tonight?” and then follows up by calling individual names. By the way, all six pupils swiftly raised their hands when Ann Curry asked if they believe that some people might not vote for McCain because of Sarah Palin.

Mingling with the Youth - Sequel IV
Sure enough Luke Russert mingled again with the future of the country to collect their ten cents in another pop journalism video with jolly background tunes that give such a bright feeling to the debates that one is prone to forget about the dark drowning economy for about four minutes.

His final piece of college visits led him to Hofstra University, the epicenter of U.S. politics on Wednesday night (October 15, 2008). The youth were already sick of Joe the (non) plumber and the extended time spent on campaign evaluation. One woman who previously had favored Obama switched to McCain because of the Republican's fancy for nuclear energy, a conservatively socialized woman was converted to Obama’s side because of his health care approach, a third woman was still “on edge”.

While this is the logical conclusion of his series of university visits during debates, it's probably among the weaker reports I've seen because it doesn't offer anything new.

The Good Stuff - A Lawsuit and Being "Other"
At the sidelines of the election frenzy the lawsuit of the Ohio Republicans has been crushed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s a neat wrap up by NBC’s justice correspondent Pete Williams who puts law language into understandable talk.

An almost four minute piece told from a first person perspective shows an interesting approach to a topic that affects millions of U.S. Americans--being of two or more races, being the other. A topic I hadn’t heard about much before was made into a touching piece about the population’s future not only in the USA but worldwide.

And it is complimented by a very useful, informative, and well-designed feature: an interactive map that shows you the population of each state in terms of two or more races. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau which is indicated in a little credit button. More maps of that sort please!

Left Over Criticism
The only complaint that is left for me this week is the absence of Jill Biden and the usual suspects, issues such as science, communication and Internet policy. Plus, an article in the German prestigious political weekly magazine Spiegel hinted at the fact that Sarah Palin is the only one in the major candidate quartet who has not showed her health records yet to the public or journalists. Wouldn’t this be a helpful piece in the otherwise extensive Palin coverage?

Interviews seem to be the strength of mass media online these days at least when it comes to NBC News.com: NBC will air an interview with John McCain and Sarah Palin on Wednesday and Thursday (October 22 and 23, 2008).

MSNBC-TV: Comparing Campaigns & Politics

by Brooks Jarosz

The third and final debate was...well, interesting to say the least. Of course, the name most discussed was "Joe the Plumber," mentioned 25 times. I was happy to see suburban Toledo, Ohio, my hometown, get so much publicity!

Reacting to the debate, I thought it was a valid representation of what each campaign stood for. Picking a winner and a losser seems to be a popular thing to do after a debate, so I'll give my opinion as well. While many opinions commended Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, I felt he was too laid back. On the other hand, Republican presidential candidate, John McCain was on the attack. Right off the top, he didn't seem to miss a beat. He was prepared to win and in many respects, did. Some critics say McCain's shifty eyes and intense movements made him seem angry and erratic. I think this spoke to the ultra conservatives who believe McCain will bring change.

Obama was laid back and relaxed trying to focus on the issues and trying to avoid major attacks. Many Obama supporters say they want to hear about the issues, mentioned many times on MSNBC. Either way, both candidates had a strategy for gaining more support to win the presidency.

"Hardball" Picks Apart Campaigns
Chris Matthews, host of "Hardball" had an interesting segment last week. He interviewed two strategists: one republican and one democrat. He asked Republican Strategist, Todd Harris why some states changed from 'for' McCain to 'lean' McCain in the state projections. Harris mentioned that much of it has to do with the unlimited amounts of money the Obama campaign has raised and how it's choosing to spend those funds. I have to agree and it's a good point to bring up that Obama's campaign is spending unprecedented amounts of green stuff while also giving millions of dollars away to local and state democratic parties. The Obama campaign just doesn't know what to do with all of their campaign contributions it's receiving. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is to be determined, but I can think of numerous other things the money could be used for to benefit American citizens... the economy maybe?

Harris also mentioned that Obama should be winning by double digits with the amount of spending that occurs day in and day out and that Independents are still in favor of the Republican candidate. Another good question raised, is Obama's race playing into some people's decision? I would say, unfortunately, yes, that plays a big role in many Americans' minds.

In projecting a winner, Democratic Strategist, Steve McMahon says some votes aren't even accounted for in the polls, thanks to the number of Obama supporters trying to get new voters to register. I can certainly attest to that as it was very prominent here in Athens. Every time I turned around, someone was there asking me to register. While Matthews, discounted McMahon's point of the electoral college, I agree with McMahon. Obama is projected to lead the electoral college count by 100 votes and I don't see McCain gaining that many states in two weeks, despite what has happened in history. Matthews always gets his opinions in here and there, but overall I enjoyed this dual.

Anti-Americanism...What is That?
Sometimes I don't get it. There are some stupid people out there and yes, they're in the political world too. MSNBC-TV spoke with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann about her views on Barack Obama. She said we need an investigation into Anti-Americanism in Congress. She also mentioned the media should be looking into this as well. Are you kidding me? Does she not think the vows taken as a Senator matter? All of this negative campaigning and comparing Obama to a terrorist makes me sick. Let's get to the issues!

MSNBC should be focusing more on things that actually matter and less on sensationalism. I did, however, enjoy the response they got on this issue from Colin Powell. He said if you're an American, that's what you are and Americans get strength through unity and diversity. It's just too bad the campaigns cause the nation to be divided. Let's hope we all come together...November 5th!

Monday, October 20, 2008

NBC-TV: Obama v Palin

by Samantha Pompeo

Anyone who has some knowledge of the national election can tell you that it's coming quick. It seems that just yesterday we were trying to determine who would be facing John McCain in the election. But thankfully, we're only 14 days away. In two weeks, voters will head to the polls to decide the next president of the United States. So, if you've been living underneath a rock, you may ask who are the running mates? If you watched some of NBC, it'd seem as if the race was Obama vs. Palin. Where's John McCain? In a Nightly News story, McCain isn't the first Republican you see. Why, it's Sarah Palin! And look how funny she is, appearing on Saturday Night Live. But where is McCain? Oh, here he is.. let's show him complaining about Obama again.

It's hard for the "liberal media" to rid itself of that title when the focus seems to be primarily on the liberals. The following sit-down interview with Barack Obama appeared on the Today Show this week, but where was the sit-down with John McCain?

In the piece, there's no mention of Matt Lauer visiting McCain on the campaign trail. But, there is mention of Sarah Palin's competence. Whenever Barack Obama is interviewed, the abilities of Sarah Palin are discovered. The same is apparent with Joe Biden. Lauer makes a big point of questioning Obama, and he responds eloquently. But, when is McCain questioned about Biden's ability to run the White House? He isn't. And the same should be said about Sarah Palin. America should be able to make a responsible decision about Palin's capability without the constant badgering of political analysts. I'll say it again, for the umpteenth time... where are the issues? When will networks such as NBC go back to the basics of what the election is really about... the issues. Lets hope that, with the election in sight, the networks will switch its focus to the real election.

FoxNews.com: All Obama?

by Alex Mazer

I was looking at the Foxnews.com site when I came across an article that was about the democratic vice presidential candidate. The title of the piece was Biden: Obama Will be 'Tested' by World in First 6 Months of Administration. In this article, Biden is depicted as being a little apprehensive of Obama being elected.

The article starts off with Biden saying that if or when elected, within the first six months of his presidency, Obama will be "tested" with an international crisis. To me, I think this statement was a bad idea on Biden's part. In my opinion it shows a lack of confidence in the candidate.

A lot of the articles on the site recently have been highlighting more of the negatives on both campaigns. I don't like to hear about all the bad things going on in the campaigns. Personally, I would much rather hear about the issues and campaign updates.

One of the problems I found with the Fox election website is the fact that all of the headlines have Obama's name in them. There is no diversity with the stories. It almost looks like Fox is a cheerleader for Obama right now. So where are the stories about McCain? Is Fox avoiding the Republican party?

Fox has almost gone to the other extreme and is now over-covering the Democratic race. Maybe they are trying to protect McCain and Palin from further scrutiny.

Fox News Channel: Plumbers, Debates and October Surprises

By Allison Herman

Holy Joe! Ohioan Joe the Plumber is everywhere this week after the final presidential debate brought his small business concerns to the national stage. I turned on Fox News several different times, and it seemed that if Joe Wurzelbacher wasn’t in the story, he was on various news shows doing interviews. I can’t decide whether or not his 15 minutes of fame are worthy or not. I like that he’s a regular guy, trying to build a business for himself and he’s voicing his concerns to the presidential candidates. I just don’t know if it’s being taken too far.

One think I liked about this week’s Fox News Channel election coverage was some surprisingly intelligent debate between Fox News anchors and correspondents. They were commenting on a remark Joe Biden made about Barack Obama facing major international issues early in his presidency. The correspondents were discussing whether or not Barack Obama would be ready to deal with foreign policy issues if he is elected in November. I felt like one was playing devil’s advocate, but regardless, the rhetoric showed both sides of the fence quite well.

To me, the most interesting bit of information on Fox this week was the anticipation of an October Surprise. There were countless teases saying that Colin Powell could drop the October Surprise if he came out saying he supported Barack Obama. Now that Colin Powell has come out supporting Barack Obama, I think it's interesting but I don’t know how much weight it will have as far as an October Surprise. Typically, endorsements don’t mean too much, and I don’t know if anyone on the fence will sway to the Democratic side because of what Powell says, or any Republicans who would have voted for McCain before the endorsement won’t anymore.

CNN.com: Joe the Plumber Makes the A List

by: Julie Hartz

Three words I never thought would bother me now make me want to throw a glass at any TV that blares them. "Joe the Plumber." Joe the Plumber has accomplished a lot in his life. He's obviously, a successful plumber, he's established himself as a world figure, and he almost made me smash a TV during the final presidential debate on Wednesday.

I understand the importance of politicians relating to 'normal people', but there IS such a thing as a dead horse. And beating it. And that is exactly what McCain and Obama did during the presidential debate.

You can watch the full video of Joe Wulzerbacher questioning Obama's tax policy here, which is what prompted the hot topic for the debate:

Well, looking into the infamous Joe, I decided to investigate some articles about him. I was surprised to find that he makes about $250,000 or more a year. CNN got a chance to talk to him about the debate and his huge role in it.

But what kind of effect has this phenomenon had on McCain and Obama's campaigns? It's actually brought a whole different interest and participation in voters. At campaign rallies across the nation, attendees are now going by "Rose the Teacher", "Phil the Bricklayer", and so on and so forth.

CNN-TV: Colin Powell did what?!

by Christina London

Just in case you haven’t heard, Colin Powell is endorsing Barack Obama for president.

Last Sunday, the former Republican Secretary of State announced that he was supporting the Democratic candidate. Powell made his announcement to Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press over on the peacock network. Even though CNN didn’t get the big announcement, it was ready for post-game coverage.

Now, I understand that Powell’s announcement didn’t exactly come as a surprise. CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger says the Obama camp has “courted” Powell for months, and there were Internet rumblings all last week. Still, as soon at Meet the Press was over, CNN was on the air with two hours of reaction and analysis. On Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer hosted two political figures: former New York City mayor and presidential hopeful for the GOP Rudy Giuliani and Congressman Artur Davis, a Democrat from Alabama. They were followed by a discussion panel made up of CNN political strategists.

This made me wonder, what if Powell hadn’t made the announcement? What if he endorsed McCain instead...or didn’t endorse anyone at all? Would they have still interviewed the same guests and just asked them different questions? Or did they have backup guests lined up to talk about the economy? Obviously, this raises a lot of questions about what it’s like to be a CNN producer; so much coordination is involved for even short segments. By any means, I was impressed by the immediacy of CNN’s coverage of the Colin Powell announcement.

So how big of an impact will Powell’s endorsement of Obama have on the election? Some political analysts say it could be substantial. Powell was classified as one of the “big gets” for the candidates. (The panel listed Al Gore and Ted Kennedy in the same category.) At a time when it’s all about undecided voters, CNN’s David Gergen says Powell gave a voice to moderate Republicans. For instance, Powell talked about how turned off he was by the Republicans dwelling on Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers. This might speak to moderates who are still undecided. While all of the CNN panelists agreed Powell could influence voters, Republican Strategist Leslie Sanchez points out that he's still only one person.

One person not pleased at all with Powell's endorsement is Stephen Colbert. Take a look:

What kind of impact (if any) do you think the Colin Powell endorsement will have?

CBSNews.com: A Few Small October Surprises

by Cristina Mutchler

Colin Powell Endorsing...Obama?
A surprise for many, former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced over the weekend that he is endorsing Democrat Barack Obama for president. Although Powell said that Obama and his competitor John McCain are both qualified to become the leader of our nation, he thinks that Obama is better suited to handle the current economic problems as well as our standing internationally. Powell described Obama as a "transformational figure" and said that we need a president who represents generational change. Next, Obama announced that Colin Powell will play a large role as a presidential advisor in his administration. The surprises just keep coming!

Middle Class McCain
Also over the weekend, Republican John McCain cast himself as the "guardian of middle-class workers and small-business owners who fuel the economy." During a rally at Otterbein College here in our home state, McCain said that he won't raise taxes on small businesses, unlike his opponent Barack Obama.

McCain went from the Columbus area to Toledo, near "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher's Holland home, and even mentioned him at the rallies after the plumber was taped questioning Obama's tax plan in regards to his two-man plumbing shop. McCain also got creative with names, saying that he was campaigning "on behalf of Joe the Plumber and Rose the Teacher and Phil the Bricklayer and Wendy the Waitress."

On another interesting note, while in Ohio McCain also held a conference call with Jewish leaders and was endorsed by The Columbus Dispatch.

Voter Mix Ups
A Washington Post story on the CBSNews.com website talked about the thousands of U.S. voters across the country that are required to now establish their eligibility in the next three weeks in order to be able to vote on November 4th. This mix-up was a result of new state registration systems that are rejecting the voters' eligibility by fluke. States are using new systems that are switching from locally managed lists to state-wide lists.

The result? A bunch of lawsuits, and arguments among Democratic/Republican state officials, including here in Ohio. All of this is just adding to confusion on Election Day, with no way of knowing how many voters are affected by this issue nationwide.

MSNBC.com: Endorsements and Underdogs

Jaime Baker

This past week, MSNBC.com was all over Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama. Powell was secretary of state for George W. Bush, and a member of the Republican party. A major thought was that Powell was endorsing Obama because of his race, but Powell has denied it. It seems as though choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate was the final nail in the coffin for John McCain, according to Powell. Powell says his decision raises questions about McCain's judgment.

Another good part of last week for Obama was the announcement of the money raised for his campaign last month. Obama raked in over $150 million, which absolutely shatters records. Average donations were around $86. When put in context of just how bad the economy is, it's an even bigger deal. The money has shown that he has secured a foothold in many states that have not voted Democratic in the past.

John McCain, on the other hand, is busy playing the underdog--literally. McCain is casting himself as a middle-class guardian and at the same time taking over the role of underdog in the presidential race. Americans tend to root for the underdog, so McCain is trying to play it up to see if it will help get more votes.

McCain is also reeling a bit from comments Powell made about his judgments and decisions. Choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate seems to be something that has turned sour for McCain. McCain now also needs to defend his party and supporters, because Powell seems to be pushing that McCain is allowing people to make derogatory comments about Obama and his race. It sounds like McCain may have some serious work to do.

Smiling Through the Mockery
Sarah Palin finally made an in-the-flesh appearance on Saturday Night Live this past week. NBC scored it's highest ratings for late-night in 14 years. But Chevy Chase, who is one of the biggest names of SNL, said he thought Palin coming on was a terrible decision. He said people are totally unimpressed with Palin. Sounds like Palin just can't win.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

MSNBC.com: Economic Plans and Picture Perfect Lives

Jaime Baker

The last two days have produced big announcements of economic plans for the presidential candidates. Monday, Barack Obama proposed putting house foreclosures on hold and giving tax breaks to businesses to help creat jobs. These new proposals included a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures by some banks, a $3,000 tax credit for each new job created, and a plan to let voters withdraw without tax penalties up to a maximum of $10,000, from their retirement savings plans through the end of next year.

John McCain fired back on Tuesday with his own plan. McCain set out a $52.5 billion plan to help the economy. He called for the elimination of taxes on unemployment benefits, lowering what the government takes from seniors as they draw on retirement accounts and accelerating tax deductions for people forced to sell assets at a loss in the troubled market. McCain also said that if he is elected president, he would make sure the Treasury Department guarantees 100 percent of all savings over the next 6 months.

Candidates Lives in Pictures
One of my favorite new parts of MSNBC's website in their section that includes pictures of the candidates throughout their lives. Barack Obama's photos were more focused around his childhood and his family life. John McCain's photos had very few family pictures, but a lot of pictures from his time in the military.

I found this very interesting, because Obama has made a very big point of putting his family in the limelight to show how family-oriented he is. But McCain has used a lot of his military past as an argument as to why he should be elected. These pictures match almost perfectly to some of the campaigning tactics they've been using.