Editorial unfair about Bush, debates

On Sept. 8, a Minnesota Daily editorial took a normal political occurrence and ignorantly attempted to portray George W. Bush as a moron. The students and faculty at the University of Minnesota deserve and must demand better. Here is just a random sample:
1. The editorial states that Bush’s attempt to have the debates hosted in a setting more favorable to him showed a lack of confidence. This is the same thing Al Gore is attempting to do. You could have interpreted that Al Gore’s unwillingness to make any concession at all shows that he lacks confidence in his ability to come off as likeable in an intimate setting.
2. You refer to the choice of having a debate on CNN’s “Larry King Live” as “(Bush’s) personal choice.” Let us not forget that it was actually Al Gore who made the challenge for Bush to appear with him on that program when he was on it three months ago. You fail to point out that Gore has reversed his position and is now ducking the debate he called for.
3. You stated: “In 1992, one of the 90-minute debates reached an audience of 92 million people.” I don’t know where you got this mind-boggling number, but your statement is factually misleading. While you might be able to split hairs about this quote, the way it is phrased makes it basically a lie. While trying to keep this as simple as possible, let me try to figure out what you meant. Ratings shares are determined by the number of people watching TV at that exact moment in time. Either you are trying to say 92 million people watched the debate, which would make it the most watched television show in history, or you might be attempting to say that 92 people had the opportunity to watch that debate. While CNN is seen in roughly 70 million homes, and maybe 20 million people might not be able to watch this one debate, do not forget to mention the number of people in your 92 million who will not or are ineligible to vote anyway. The truth of the matter is this: 50 million people watched the last episode of M.A.S.H and that is the highest-rated show of all time. Forty million people watched “Survivor,” and in specialty programming, anywhere from 60-75 million watch the Super Bowl. You are trying to portray the 1992 debate as bigger than the Super Bowl, while the interest in and the ratings for debates have been in a decline for the last 20 years. Imagine the money the networks would throw at the candidates and political parties if the debates were watched by more people than the Super Bowl.
4. The silly insinuation that Bush would meet world leaders in coffee houses is as moronic as Al Gore’s claim that he “invented the Internet,” is the inspiration for the movie and novel Love Story, and that he uncovered the Love Canal story. George W. Bush has been a leader in both the private and public sectors, something Gore can not claim, unless your talking about being a leader in the slum lord industry. Would Gore care to meet world leaders in one of the tenements he owns that have overflowing toilets and lack running tap water?
The truth is, Al Gore and George Bush are locked in a statistical dead heat. Debates will happen, issues will be discussed, and debating on if we are going to have debates and where is a waste of news print.
The readers of The Minnesota Daily deserve accurate interpretation of public affairs.
Kyle Wolfram is a junior in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Send comments to [email protected]