Hoping to prevent the election-coverage debacle that marred the 2000 presidential race, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is urging the major television networks to hold off on naming the winner of tomorrow’s contest until the polls have closed — nationwide.
“When television stations call elections based on the results in a few Eastern States,” Dingell wrote last week to the heads of the major networks and cable news stations, “voter turnout elsewhere in the nation could potentially be lower than it would otherwise have been. This can affect the results of the presidential election, and have a dramatic impact on other contests for elected office as well.”
Dingell, a 54-year Washington veteran, seemed to link network restraint with patriotic duty. “Such a fair and judicious approach,” he said, “will allow the elections to play out as they may, without any unintended influence by the media, and is in the best interests of the country.”
It’s a nice thought. There’s just one problem: These media outlets are profit-driven businesses. They race for ratings, and “the best interests of the country” are not much of an impediment. How else to explain Bill O’Reilly and “Dancing With the Stars?”
Indeed, despite Dingell’s well-intentioned entreaty, the smart money says that this contest will be called at the first sign of a victor.
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