U.S. Rep. Cramer Protests to TV Networks About Media Bias for Hillary Clinton;
He Urges Network Heads to “Clean Up Their Act” Tonight
By Tom Snyder, Editor of Movieguide®
Date: Friday, November 4, 2016
U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer (R – N. Dakota) has written officially today to the heads of the four Broadcast Networks – NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox – protesting media bias against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and in favor of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
In an exclusive interview with Movieguide®, Rep. Cramer said he wants to see the four networks improve their coverage of the 2016 campaign right away and will be watching their evening news programs tonight to see more balanced coverage.
“The first thing I hope happens is that they clean up their act,” he said.
“There’s still a few days left in this election cycle, and I think they [the network heads] should demonstrate goodwill in trying to clean up their act. The best way they can get back to me today would be for me to watch the evening news and see a much more balanced broadcast.”
Rep. Cramer told the four network heads in his letter today, “I intend to request a hearing to explore network media bias in coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign.”
Cramer is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce with subcommittee assignments to Communications and Technology and Oversight and Investigations.
In his letter, Cramer noted that a Gallup poll recently showed that Americans’ “trust and confidence in the mass media – to report the news fully, accurately and fairly – has dropped to 32 percent, its lowest level in polling history.”
Cramer’s letter also cited a poll released by the Associated Press (AP) last week that 56 percent of likely voters believe the media is biased against Trump.
“Your broadcast news networks. . . have a moral obligation to provide balanced, unbiased news coverage for the America people,” Cramer wrote to ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, NBC CEO Stephen B. Burke, and Fox TV CEO Dana Walden.
Cramer told Movieguide® he decided to write the official letter to these people after he became “very frustrated” this week that the networks used three times more air time on criticisms of FBI Director John Comey’s decision to reopen the FBI’s criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State than the air time they spent on the specific allegations against Clinton.
Critics allege that Clinton’s use of a private email endangered national security and violated federal laws regarding the handling of classified information.
“The networks have a tremendous privilege in the use of the public [broadcast] spectrum, and they shouldn’t take it for granted that it will always be there,” Cramer said.
“I would like to ask very specific factual questions in a hearing,” he added. “Can you explain why in the Hillary Clinton email scandal and the revelations day after day after day of serious problems don’t get the same attention as Donald Trump’s errors a dozen years ago get? Why do you think, two-to-one almost, Americans feel like the networks are biased toward the Democratic nominee?”
He reiterated to Movieguide® he believes the networks “have a moral obligation to correct that” bias.
“The networks heads can do something about it on their own,” Cramer noted. “The goal is to get more balance in news for the American people and not necessarily punish anybody.”
He said, as a member of the House subcommittee on Communications and Technology, he favors more local and regional control of news programming than having all the news programming be controlled by news directors and journalists stationed or based in New York City.
Running all your news programming out of Manhattan creates its own “cultural bias,” Cramer said, whether such bias is intended or not.
Citing the AP poll mentioned above, Cramer said, ”That’s a pretty strong indictment when the pubic itself sees a bias.”
Cramer said he’s not interested in a return to the Fairness Doctrine regulating political coverage and said he understands the need for an independent press.
He added, “I don’t like a lot of government intervention in business, but this is a business that uses a public asset and I just think it’s a revocable privilege, and they ought to treat it with the type of respect I think it deserves.”
In his letter, Cramer told the four network heads, “As you are well aware, the privilege to broadcast a free signal is a privilege afforded to very few, and with it comes tremendous responsibility. The broadcast license awarded to you by the Federal Communications Commission is on behalf of the citizens. The spectrum your news is carried on is not yours alone but rather the property of a skeptical citizenry. Your FCC license and the liberty that comes with your First Amendment rights are not a license to broadcast anything you want or in any way you choose. Rather, this special freedom comes with basic moral and legal parameters.”
Cramer told Movieguide® the four network heads should “try to discipline their news departments a little bit, at least try and seek some balance in their coverage of the two party nominees in the remaining days [of the campaign] and restore some confidence in the viewers.”
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