the choice 2000
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discussion: What are your reactions and thoughts to FRONTLINE'S The Choice 2000?  What do these portraits of the candidates tell us about their fitness for the presidency?  Are you happy with your choices in this year's election?

college students' reaction

Dear FRONTLINE

I have read your message board with astonishment. Most of the people who have written with only a couple of exceptions, seem to think that your show should be a forum for only the views which they share.

It is amazing to see the contrast of opinions about your wonderful presentation. Only 2 of 10 messages were positive. The other 8 all had something to complain about. The amazing thing is that they all had a different reason for considering your show biased. And they couldn't even agree as to who the show was biased toward! Congratulations on a very informative and UNBIASED presentation. Please keep up the good work.

Sam McAlpine
Anchorage, AK

Dear FRONTLINE

i have to agree with most of the feedback received. this broadcast looked more like a bush campaign ad than a pbs special. a story on how george w. braved his way into texas governorship the weakest gubanatorial office in the country using charm and brains. his experience in the oil business greatly helped him in office, even though we all know the extent of bush's success in the oil businessdiscouragingly unsuccessful. you didn't touch on bush's past, and spent too much time on gore's. even the interviews were bush-friendly. another thing that has been bothering me is pbs's failure to talk about any third-party candidates. although, the web-site is sprinkled with this info you don't seem to want to televize it.

hubert hensen
las vegas, nv

Dear FRONTLINE

The fact that your program The Choice 2000 only included two of the candidates running for president is absolutely ridiculous. By not including Ralph Nader of the Green Party you have failed to do justice in your pathetic attempt to ask the people who they want to vote for.

I normally have enjoyed your programs, but the fact that you have failed to include a candidate that has 14 million American supporters is very biased and unprofessional.

Kenneth Hermann
Danbury, CT

Dear FRONTLINE

As a regular viewer of Frontline I thought it was a very well balanced fair assesment. At the end I felt I really knew them. I am a avid political junkie read the Washington Post, New york Times etc. and still gained alot.

harriet schultz
Fullerton, California

Dear FRONTLINE

It must come as no surprise that THE CHOICE 2000 should be accused of bias by partisans of both candidates. It seemed to me, as biography, impartial to a fault. Indeed, I would have appreciated a less genteel examination of the candidateís histories, something more on the order of Molly Ivinsí book SHRUB: THE SHORT BUT HAPPY POLITICAL LIFE OF GEORGE W. BUSH, or Alexander Cockburnís AL GORE: A USERíS MANUAL.

The basic problem seems to have been a decision, in keeping with the sentimentalizing tone of so much electoral politics, to treat the presidential election as a contest between two personalities, rather than two political programs. Frankly, I could hardly care less which of the two, Bush or Gore, has the more charming personality. The important question, which I insist it is your obligation as public broadcasters to address, is: what consequences can we expect from the election of either of these two as President, based on their track records and their positions on matters of policy? Perhaps the program would have been more substantive and useful if you had employed as your correspondant someone more intimately acquainted with the issues...such as, perhaps, Ralph Nader?

Kenneth Huey
Seattle, WA

Dear FRONTLINE

Although your presentation tonight was fairly well done, it is discouraging to see the constant yet subtle bias expressed by your show.

The music in the background for Bush clips was a southern, twangy piece that implied he was an uneducated, unrefined hack. The music for Gore clips was upbeat and exciting.

Bush's service as a fighter pilot was mocked, while Gore's time in Vietnam as a reporter conveniently left out the part about his having bodyguards to keep him out of any danger. His Vietnam service clip also excluded his lies about being under fire and walking "the point".

Through your choice of descriptive words, you portray Bush as a lightweight by referring to him as a part-time flyboy, and making reference to his "daddy". Your show also portrayed Gore's flip-flops on gun control and abortion as positive aspects, while forwarding the position that he really believes his current positions, not those positions taken in the past. Oh well, it was too much to expect a truly unbiased show. I guess I should be happy with only a subtle bias.

Clark Gehlbach

Dear FRONTLINE

Nice, well-balanced program on the two candidates, though I will vote for neither man I did learn some valiant things about them, however.

I believe the PBS, as well as the other major news organizations, are part of the problem in creating a two-man race in this nation. The simple answer is that candidates Browne, Nader, Buchanan, Phillips, Haegelin all need to be part of the debate process, part of the funding process and part of the answers Americans are seeking. Democrats and Republicans are one and the same -- they will continue the problems of high taxes, corporate sellout and will reach higher and farther for a complete government that will end more and more freedoms for Americans.

Obrey Brown
Redlands, Calif.

Dear FRONTLINE

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by your seemingly evenhanded look at both these men who would be president. This was, after all, a program about character and character is how we behave under given circumstances on a regular basis.

Thank you for at least attempting to present an impartial, nonpatronizing and balanced view of how two men behave in their public lives -- their actions and the motives behind them. You did not try to flatter either man, but point out his strengths as well as his weaknesses so that we voters may decide which man best fills the needs of our country and represents our better selves in action.

I am more convinced than ever from this broadcast that the straightforward approach to life, the streak of personal independence tempered with loyalty to family and friends, and the conviction to do what is right rather than politically expedient at any given time, manifest in the character of George W. Bush is what we need for the times ahead and what will best serve this country.


Marion Anderson
Idaho Springs, CO

Dear FRONTLINE

What a truly illuminating experience! By focusing on the candidates personalities and motivations you have more fully fleshed them out, shown them as the humans they are. Sometimes, it's not about the issues.

Geoffrey Vaughn
Berthoud, CO

Dear FRONTLINE

As usual, Frontline did another great job in providing an illuminating account on an important issue of the day, the presidential election.

After having browsed at some of the responses that have already been posted, I can't understand where some of these political party fanatics are coming from. I approached this program from the standpoint of learning some personal history and forces that guided these candidates in shaping their lives. I didn't hear any opinions in the narration which caused me to believe that there was any bias. It was a well crafted show with plenty of interesting details that I hadn't heard before today. I just can't see how people saw this program as something more than personal portraits or biographies of the two candidates. Some people said they saw slant and bias. Some people just see what they want to see.

As far as not focusing on the real issues such as the candidates' platforms, that's what debates are for. In closing, I would like to say that I've seen so many excellent programs on Fontline, Nova, etc. PBS is doing such great job. They are being true their slogan, "If PBS doesn't do it, who will?" Keep up the good work!

Joshua Ozuna
San Antonio, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE

Well, I thought it was a pretty balanced program. Yes, the differences between the two are more subtle than substantive, but that is the beauty of the system. Changes can only be made in small and measured steps.

We may not get where we are going as quickly as we would like, but we don't take too many major, intractible steps either. Like Aesop taught us - slow and steady wins the race. After 210+ years we continue to learn and grow.

Ron Caird
Marietta, Georgia

Dear FRONTLINE

As usual, you have presented a well made program. However, what I fear that many who watched it have missed are the many emotionally manipulative musical and visual cues which have been incorporated into the piece.

For instance, the Texas scenes were presented with an undercurrent of disturbing ambient music, and not just in emotional sections such as that about Carla Faye Tucker, still unwarranted in a supposedly objective piece, but even in the more positive sections. The same goes for some of the visuals. Anyone with a rudimentary knowlege of film-making could recognize these things. How you feel about it depends on your political beliefs, I suppose. As for me, this is the kind of thing which disappoints me with Frontline and PBS in general. I am also disapointed that more viewers don't realize that they are being subtly manipulated by such techniques.

Edward Tims
Greenville, SC

Dear FRONTLINE

After watching the latest presidential broadcast produced by the PBS organization, I found myself in disbelief and sickened at the level of fondness afforded to Al Gore, and the negative pretense amassed against Goerge W.

What is it with the media and its romanticized portrayal of a meandering politician like Gore? You painted such a heroic picture of Big Al, mighty follower of anything mom and dad told him to do. If anything, Al blandly perpetuates others' beliefs and actions most obviously Slick Willy's in order to gain political appeal-- not traction into policies, improvements, programs or repeals thereof, etc. that he truely believes in, and which might actually do something other than get him elected.

You used most of your script in describing Bush, and his background, in ways that derail the general public's opinion of him-- a "frat boy", or the scene of Gore as a distraught father and then getting to Bush as "meanwhile, Gov Bush was developing quite the executive lifestyle in the gov's mansion..." Please! Bush stands by his principles. Keep it unbiased.

Bush is going to have enough trouble with this election due to the popular media's refusal to tell truths, or even tell anything substantial, about Gore. From the media's marketing machine, all they care about is selling one sided stories-- Gore Great! -- Bush Bad!! And it looks like PBS will be joining this Great Machine of Destruction-- manufacturing a Democrat favored story and marketing campaign, in order to keep the people of our country from knowing how low Gore actually stooped to remain "the man" from a corrupt and impeached president's point of view, and to remain the Democrats' hopeful for the President of the US.

jt harles
grand rapids, mi

Dear FRONTLINE

I thought the program was technically well done, as usual, but a bit of a fluff piece. It was superficial on both candidates. I have come to expect to learn something new from your programs, but it wasn't there this time. I had the feeling that I was seeing excerpts from each candidate's promo's with some old film footage thrown in for continuity. You should have gone deeper into both of these men.

Lyman Hughes
Ennis, MT

Dear FRONTLINE

I thoroughly enjoyed "The Choice." It gave me a better look into the personalities and forces behind the two candidates than anything else I've seen on TV so far. I appreciate that I couldn't detect that Frontline preferred or was leaning toward either candidate.

I'd already decided which one I'm voting for; your program didn't change my mind but settled some misgivings. Note that I said "some"--neither of these men is an ideal choice. They've both been hard to gauge or believe.

M. K. Palmer
Hendersonville, NC

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