DISCONNECTED: Politics, the Press and the Public
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Join the dialogue!
Hear our panelists' perspectives, then tell us what you think.

Mayor Bill Campbell
Ed Rollins
Dan Rather
Joan Blades
Randy Tate
Politician's Privacy
Is anything private for public figures? In the past, even when journalists knew about the private lives of politicians, there was a limit to what they would report to the public. Today's overheated media environment has exploded those old boundaries, producing an unprecedented airing of candidates' private lives. Feeling vulnerable to pervasive media coverage of the phrasing of everything they say and media scrutiny of everything they ever did, politicians have turned to spin doctors and pollsters for help. Should candidates and their families be entitled to a zone of privacy in their personal life? How do we balance the public's right to know with the individual's right to privacy?

For youth perspectives on these issues, visit Teenvoice.com's E-lections site, featuring student discussions, polls, and other resources. Check our list of resources for more organizations and websites that deal with these issues.

realmedia video clipMayor Bill Campbell
"The issue is these media hounds that we're going to have to deal with. Dan Rather's going to be on our front step with '48 Hours,' and then there's the Internet people (Matt Drudge). All these folks are going to be on us. Can we survive this test?"

Do you agree that people running for public office are unfairly besieged by the media?
If yes, why?
The press is out of control
Blame it on technology
Public curiosity is insatiable

If no, why?
Politics requires scrutiny
Politicians need publicity
Public needs to judge character

realmedia video clipEd Rollins
"You have to sit down, and you have to say, 'Listen, I'm your priest, your rabbi, whatever. You've got to confess all your sins to me. I have to know what's in your background. And I'm not talking about did you get too drunk at a fraternity party when you were in college. Is there a business deal when you and your son were trying to buy the Atlanta Braves from Ted Turner? Was there something there that'll come out that basically will have a negative effect?'"

To wage an effective campaign must the politician reveal all to his team?
If yes, why?
Protect the candidate
Stay ahead of the opponent
No privacy in politics

If no, why?
Entitled to some privacy
Nobody's business
Many things aren't pertinent

realmedia video clipDan Rather
"If I check this out and it turns out, yeah, he did this 20 years ago, but he hasn't done anything since then, I may not report it to you. You may not like that, and you probably get it someplace else. But, if he made a mistake 20 years ago, and if since then, yes, he's talked strong against crime, I'm not sure that it's demonstrative of some deep and abiding hypocrisy if he made this mistake 20 years ago. Now, if he's had a pattern over the years of doing this, that makes the case stronger. But I just want to put an asterisk at the bottom of the page."

Do you agree that a candidate's past history may not be pertinent?
If yes, why?
Learn from mistakes
He was a kid
Who cares

If no, why?
Insight into character
Past predicts future
Must be a role model

realmedia video clipJoan Blades
"I think we're creating a real problem as we have gotten deeper and deeper into the past and personal lives of candidates. We're going to be down to a very small body of people. We're going to be excluding, eliminating huge numbers of very valuable talent."

Do you agree that fewer people will run as a result of this media scrutiny?
If yes, why?
Fear for their families
Things to hide
Too stressful

If no, why?
Many are running
Americans are forgiving
Politicians expect it

realmedia video clipRandy Tate
"I think they should look into it. I think they should find out what the issue is. If you're running to be the highest law enforcement in the land, if you're looked up to as a role model for children, and poll after poll shows the President of the United States and the First Lady and others are people that young children look up to, I think it's a legitimate issue. It provides a window into the character of the individual. I think the press has an obligation to run that down."

Do you agree that the press should investigate matters of "character?"
If yes, why?
High standards for world leaders
Role models for children
Must trust our leaders

If no, why?
No one's perfect
Performance more important
Should concentrate on issues

Spotlight on Issues >> Politician's Privacy | What the Public Wants |What Drives Media Coverage
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