Election 2000: Not Networks’ Finest Hour

One final note about the bizarre, Byzantine business that was the election of the 43rd president of the United States. The networks need to clean up their act.

The misuse of exit polls and skewed early returns to project a Florida win for Vice President Gore — before folks in the Central Time Zone Panhandle had even finished voting — was unconscionable. “If you can’t be right, at least be first,” seemed the media mantra. Instead, it should be “First, do no harm.” Then the herd instinct kicked in, and everyone ran with the same irresponsibly incorrect information.

Here’s some advice: Leave the exit polling to political scientists, who don’t have to play beat the clock and conquer the competition. But, more importantly, remember who you are and what your function is in a democracy. To wit: Report the news and even analyze it. But don’t make the news. It’s not good for credibility; it shouldn’t be good for business; and it’s definitely not good for America.

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