January 29, 1998
The media frenzy surrounding President Clinton's alleged affair has many people asking what constitutes responsible reporting in the age of 24 hour news. Following a discussion with a citizens' panel in Denver, Phil Ponce and guests analyze the media's coverage of the White House crisis.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
January 29, 1998
Experts discuss the media's coverage of the White House crisis.
January 28, 1998
Denver citizens discuss President Clinton's State of the Union address.
October 16, 1997
David Gelernter speaks with David Gergen about his book Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber.
June 6, 1997
Is there a revolving door between journalism and politics?
April 7, 1997:
A discussion on the increasing mistrust of the press.
January 16, 1997:
A look at media ethics in the wake of the Food Lion case.
January 25-29, 1996:
A Gergen Dialogue and Authors' Corner forum with James Fallows, author of Breaking the News: How the Media Undermined American Democracy.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of media.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: On the question of the media coverage of this, have the media gone overboard, or have they done a fairly good job covering it, in your view?
The media and the White House crisis.
DEE CISNEROS, Retired Teacher: I feel that they have gone overboard. They had crucified the man even before he has been charged. And we haven't--nothing has been proven yet. So I really feel that they're overdoing it. I have to turn it off. I could not tolerate it anymore. I couldn't listen any longer.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What was it that you couldn't tolerate? What was the most offensive to you?
DEE CISNEROS: Well, it's a constant barrage of criticism. I just think it would be too much for any human being to listen to all of that.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Mr. Dickinson, you're somewhat critical of the President. Do you think the media has gone overboard here?
T. WRIGHT DICKINSON, Rancher: Yes and no. I can see them going a little bit overboard, as Dee would say. But in this instance I think the media is doing what it's supposed to do, which is report. Now, you may not have to be on the air every minute to do that. I think the media has to find within itself some reserves, some ability to limit itself. But, why I can't buy the argument that this is some grand conspiracy, whatever, if it was, the media would have had it ferreted out in a minute and those would be exposed. This is the media talking about their man, their baby, and they're laying the facts out on the table. And quite honestly, I can't see a conspiracy in this thing. I think this is own man's lower character taking him down.
DEE CISNEROS: You're calling it facts. We're not sure they're facts.
T. WRIGHT DICKINSON: Dee, on that point, I think you're very accurate and very correct. If we have to find out what the facts are.
Ms. Cordova: "...I don't think they're serving the purpose of informing the public as much as they are titillating the public...."
SUZANNA CORDOVA, School Administrator: I don't think that Clinton is the media's baby any more than whatever is the fad of the moment is the media's baby. I think that the media, it's like the over-commercialization of news, which I find really distasteful, and not just about Clinton. I think that it's the problem with the media in general, and especially anything that has to do with sex and what a big deal it is and how everybody has to know every tiny, little detail, you know, to the point where I don't think they're serving the purpose of informing the public as much as they are titillating the public and serving their own interests and getting more viewers.
ERIC DURAN, Financial Analyst: The reality is that media is becoming so competitive that things are broadcast simultaneously. And if you look at the Super Bowl, the minute the game was over there were already players holding up, you know, newspapers with the results on there. And it was just amazing to me. And I think that when you look at a scandal, I mean, this is much different than what happened in Watergate when there was sort of a deliberation and there was a little bit of time for facts to come out, and they came out in the Washington Post over a series of days and in-depth analysis and articles. And now it's coming out instantly, broadcast all over the world and through the Internet. So I don't think you can--you can say that it's just--that the media is liberal anymore, or conservative. I mean, there's so many different forms of media--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Excuse me. Jim Sulton, here.
JAMES SULTON, Higher Education Administration: I find it odd for me not to fault the media on this because the sensationalism does disgust me. But there are two things that stand out: One, I learned that you can't generalize about "the" media. Princess Diana taught us that. The paparazzi are not necessarily symbolic of the media as a whole. The other is that what good journalists do, people with integrity do, is probe. And if people are hiding facts, sometimes they are the ones to uncover the facts. We all admit topinions may be held. We don't know. I wish we did know. And I wish we could put it behind us and move on. And the media has a role to play in that. So I give them their due. A lot of times I don't, so I'll just give them their due on this one. And I'll say again the sensationalism of it disgusts. But the fact of probative journalism does not.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Chris.
CHRIS GOODWIN, Stockroom Manager: I think part of the reason that maybe this scandal seems so out of perspective is because generally the media does such a poor job reporting the real issues like the big issues around the economy and foreign policy and health care. We get very, very superficial reporting on those issues. But when it comes to a major scandal or a high profile murder of some kind, or the death of a celebrity, we get wall-to-wall coverage on all channels. We don't get that on the serious issues.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But are they giving that to you because they think that's what you want, that's what "we" I should say--although--
CHRIS GOODWIN: I think most of us really don't want that. I think we're fed that on channel after channel at all hours of the day. And I think if people were offered real news, they offered them real information on the important issues, so they could make decisions about what they think should be done, I think people would respond to that. I think people do respond to that.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Dennis.
The media and the electorate.
DENNIS COUGHLIN: When you are criticizing the media, you are really criticizing the electorate, because, as you mentioned, Eric, you can make up your own mind. Whatever the media puts out, they're either believable to you, or they're not believable to you--the same thing that we have with the President. You have the ability to make your own choice. And so to criticize the media because they are somehow manipulating the population is in a way criticizing the electorate. You are an intelligent voter; you can read; you can look at what you want and make up your own mind. The media doesn't necessarily manipulate the population.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sam Arnold.
SAM ARNOLD, Restaurant Owner: I'm just disgusted with the whole thing. And I'm disgusted with a nation that thinks that this is so important that it dominates the whole news, the whole news spectrum. It's disgusting.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Well, thank you all very much for being with us.