TO THE EDITOR:
I always used to dismiss the conservative claim that the media displays a liberal bias. However, the recent lack of professionalism by the media in reporting voting in the presidential election lends credence to this claim.
Two examples come to mind. The first occurred Sunday night in an hourly news update by National Public Radio. NPR reported that a leading Democratic activist committed voter fraud by coercing homeless people in Detroit to vote for Al Gore on absentee ballots in exchange for packs of cigarettes. Luckily, a bystander videotaped this fraud. Interestingly enough, this story has not been repeated since then on NPR, any of the networks or even the "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer." Contrast the relative lack of reporting on what should, in any objective analysis, be a major story, with the current overreporting of Democratic voters' mistaken votes for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Secondly, the early and wrong call that Florida went to Gore Tuesday night by all of the major networks is worse than unprofessional. It borders on criminal. Misleading the public that the crucial 25 electoral votes in Florida went to Gore certainly could have made Republican voters who hadn't yet voted in that state stay home or get out some of the long lines at many polling stations. I find this argument much more plausible than Gore's recent racist claim that Bush would appoint Supreme Court justices who would somehow re-establish the 19th century law holding that every black male was only three-fifths of a person.
As a former Tennesseean and supporter of Sen. Gore, I am shocked at his reinvention of himself and his egomania. Ben Stein's recent claim that Gore doesn't have the emotional stability to be president seems increasingly true. As it turns out also, the major news media may not have the objectivity to report presidential elections.
Richard Rankin Russell
Department of English