US: 'Single story can ruin chances in a poll by 100%'
Claims that presidential candidate had links with Islamic radicalism as a child enter news outlets 'echo chamber'
Times of India
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
New York --- US Senator Barack Obama hardly could have anticipated that the first minor media crisis of his presidential bid would involve where he went to school at age 7.
The Illinois Democrat's welcome into the world of modern campaign coverage last week offers lessons for both candidates and reporters on the marathon run until November 2008. And it's undoubtedly a sign of things to come.
Chances are "about 100%" that a candidate will be ruined by a story that he or she hasn't anticipated, said ABC News political reporter Jake Tapper.
Stories seemingly trivial or even untrue will appear instantly and reverberate madly through the media. Candidates most skillful in anticipating them and reacting swiftly will have a big advantage.
A magazine article's charge that Obama had attended a radical Islamic school while living in Indonesia as a boy was spread on blogs and, most prominently, on Fox News Channel. Other news organisations sent reporters who learned the school in Jakarta was public and secular and has long accepted students of all faiths.
CNN's Anderson Cooper seemed to relish sticking the knife in a rival. "That's the difference between talking about news and reporting it," he said. "You send a reporter, check the facts and you decide at home." CNN had time to do that because it wasn't a hard news story, said Sam Feist, the network's political director.
"One of the things that's dangerous about a presidential campaign when it comes to the facts is the echo chamber, where one news organisation reports a story and it's not true, and one outlet picks it up, another picks it up and another," Feist said. "Before long the public assumes that it's true even when it's not."
Date Posted: 1/30/2007