Americans Should Call in Paxman

By Stephen, Andrew | New Statesman (1996), October 9, 2000 | Go to article overview

Americans Should Call in Paxman


Stephen, Andrew, New Statesman (1996)


It is one of the most hypocritical media charades of all. Last Monday, reporters from across the world flocked to Boston for the first of the big presidential debates, which took place on the Tuesday night. Next Wednesday, they will magically materialise in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the second. For the third, the dateline will be the week after that in St Louis. And here's the hypocrisy of it all: of those hundreds of hacks purporting to write authoritative, on-the-spot reports on these crucial debates, only a handful actually saw or will see the candidates perform in person.

What happens is that the hacks watch the debates -just like the 60 million or so who saw them last Tuesday night - on television: but in big halls with rows of monitors, rather than in their homes. Together, they note each other's reactions, and thus reach a consensus over who is performing best. Then they are ushered into press rooms to hear each side's spinners say how they outperformed the other. Literally within two minutes of last Tuesday's debate ending at 10.30pm Boston time, for example, Boy George's camp was telling the hacks that Slugger Al had lied no fewer than 27 times; Gore's was more conservative, accusing Dubbya of telling just 16 porkies.

Boy George was literally sniffing by the end of the debate - it was past his 9.30 bedtime and he had a cold - while Gore was still punching away verbally, and would doubtless have been going 24 hours later had the anchorman not finally called a merciful end to the fight. Yet, very speedily, a media consensus emerged. Boy George had not collapsed in tears or become totally incoherent against Al's relentless slugging, and so had won the debate. Boy George's camp had manipulated media expectations so successfully - portraying their man as a hopeless novice (just 12 televised debates under his belt) while Gore is a positive Cicero of debating wisdom (with 43) - that if there were no knockouts or blood on the floor, Dubbya would be proclaimed the winner.

Because this is the closest presidential election since JFK beat Nixon in 1960, the reporting itself is thus becoming a factor. If you read or listened to the media throughout the spring or summer, you would have assumed Boy George was virtually anointed as president. Then Al made his predictable surge, only for Boy George to start making a comeback in mid-September. By the time the two met on Tuesday (only for the third time, incidentally), Gore was pulling away from Boy George again - with a Zogby poll putting him ahead at 46-41 nationwide.

The truth about last Tuesday's debates, whatever you read elsewhere, is that Gore was the unequivocal winner on points. No knockouts, no appalling gaffes, certainly - but Gore was mercilessly in command from the very start, showing up the ineptitude not only of Boy George, but of the so-called "moderator", Jim Lehrer. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Americans Should Call in Paxman
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.