SYNOPSIS: CBS Evening News Producer Jim Murphy complains and Paul Krugman responds regarding Paul Krugman's 7.30.04 NYT Op-Ed Triumph of the Trivial
From JIM MURPHY, executive producer, "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather": The entire staff of the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather" was pretty miffed after reading Paul Krugman's column today that claimed not a SINGLE issues piece has aired on the big newscasts in the past two months. He must have missed the SIXTEEN different "issues" pieces we did over a four week period during that time, part of a series that will continue until the election. With the resources of the New York Times you would think that would be kind of difficult to miss. The Washington Post's media critic found the series so intriguing amid all the debate over campaign coverage he actually wrote an article about it. How can anyone take an editorialist's arguments seriously when he ignores some FACTS completely?
From PAUL KRUGMAN: In response to Jim Murphy's comment regarding my July 30 column on the absence of issue coverage in this election, and the "miffed" staff at CBS Evening News: as Greg Mitchell has already pointed out [below Murphy's letter], Mr. Murphy apparently misread what I said. I did not say that there has been no issue reporting at all over the past two months; I said that issue coverage is very thin, and that there has in particular been no clear explanation of even the most basic elements of the Kerry health care plan.
That statement is, alas, true. The CBS evening news report from June 29 was the best coverage of the competing health care plans I could find. But did it explain that the Kerry plan would cover most of those now uninsured? No. Did it explain that the plan would, according to the Kerry campaign, be financed by a tax-cut rollback? No. In fact, by giving time to Bush claims that "the Kerry plan would break the bank", without mentioning Kerry's plan to pay for it with a tax-cut rollback, the CBS report conveyed the false impression that the plan is unfunded pie in the sky.
Bear in mind that this is not one among many issues: health care-cum-tax cut rollback is Kerry's signature domestic policy proposal. Yet a voter who gets his or her news from TV, even CBS with its "issues" series, would have little or no idea of what Kerry is offering, or how it differs from Bush.
Originally published on Romenesko, 7.31.04