XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX FRI OCT 08, 2004 18:42:03 ET XXXXX
ABCNEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR MEMO SPARKS CONTROVERSY: BOTH SIDES NOT 'EQUALLY ACCOUNTABLE'
An internal memo written by ABCNEWS Political Director Mark Halperin admonishes ABC staff: During coverage of Democrat Kerry and Republican Bush not to "reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable."
But Halperin claims that Bush is hoping to "win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions."
"The current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done," Halperin writes.
Halperin's claim that ABCNEWS will not "reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable" set off sparks in St. Louis where media players gathered to cover the second presidential debate.
Halperin states the responsibilities of the ABCNEWS staff have "become quite grave."
In August, Halperin declared online: "This is now John Kerry's contest to lose."
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Halperin Memo Dated Friday October 8, 2004
It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns - and our responsibilities become quite grave
I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today - nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.
The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.
Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.
We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.
I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.
It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.
Filed By Matt Drudge
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