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tv   Ethical Perspectives on the News  ABC  October 30, 2016 5:30am-6:00am CDT

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air date 10-30- 2016 judging the political debates announcer: ethical perspectives on the news is produced by the inter- religious council of linn county, which is solely responsible for is this program do not necessarily reflect those of the staff and management of kcrg-tv9. craig: good morning. welcome to this week's edition of ethical perspectives on the news. my name is craig vansandt. i teach business administration at the university of northern iowa and hold the david w. wilson chair in business ethics there. we're talking about something very timely today reviewing the presidential debates that have just taken place along with the one vice
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point we will be electing a new president in just over a week. this has been one of the strangest campaigns in history certainly that i can remember and not only are the two candidates among the least liked candidates in history, they're also pola every conceivable way. i don't want to get into the particulars yet, i'd first like to introduce you to our panelists, many of whom you will recognize. first we're privileged to have bob rush, a former iowa state senator and an attorney with
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bob: thank you. craig: our second panelist is frank durham, an associate professor of journalism and mass communication at the university of iowa. thank you for coming back again. frank: it's a pleasure. craig: finally our third panelist is david bullwinkle, a professor of philosophy at kirkwood community college. david, thank you for coming on the show. david: good morning. craig: thanks for all of you for being here. to the viewers i want to first acknowledge and also apologize to each of you for the way i'll refer to all of us, i white guys we probably do not represent the full spectrum of political views. i'm going to try and address that somewhat by assuming that we all have our preferences, our personal preferences for candidates, but i'll ask us to try and set that aside to the extent that we can as we analyze the debates and help our readers think about, or our viewers think
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in our opinions. let me start this by asking each of you what's the one main takeaway that you would encourage our viewers to think about from any of the three presidential debates or the vice presidential debate? bob let me start with you. bob: as painful as parts of these debates were, i do want to say that i came out to the viewer, a lot of information that is helpful in helping people assess who they're going to support or not support. craig: okay. frank: i guess i'll take on maybe a minor point but the moderators featured at the debates were professional journalists but they weren't working as journalists. i think
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that followed the debates surrounded the perception of what those people were doing but they were working as moderators to organize the debate and they weren't really being reporters at that point. craig: okay, and just to clarify, do you see that as a strength, weakness? good thing, bad thing? frank: i think it's just confusing when a nationally known news anchor shows up and isn't behaving as a journalist in the professional sense, but this is a point to clarify and we can talk about the role of journalism further. craig: i think that is something that is very important. david, what well, i would add onto what bob was saying, i think we got a very clear display of both the style and the command of substance of the two candidates. intentionally or unintentionall y i think they both sort of showed themselves in the context of what is supposed to be a very serious discussion. craig: okay. if i may answer my own question from mine, the biggest issue that i
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newscaster, bob schieffer, who we're all familiar with. after the second presidential debate he was asked by one of the news anchors to sum up the debate in one word. you'll notice i gave you guys more than one word. mr. schieffer, and i'm going to quote this for you, said this, just say how have we come to this? america can do better than what we've seen here tonight. this was just disgraceful." i don't do his intonations justice. he was clearly saddened by what he saw in the second debate. i've got to say i'm actually a little surprised to hear each of you, bob, you, and david especially be pretty positive about this. bob: i would say that one
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we were watching during these debates might have been to give the moderator an off/on button where you could stop the interruptions and let the opponent respond. that would ri some semblance of order to the process. i think that would be helpful, but i think it's easy to be critical of what we did watch with all of the interruptions, the unanswered questions, et cetera. i think we can certainly improve upon the process.
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i didn't necessarily mean to be praising both candidates when i said that we saw both of their style and their command of substance displayed. if a wolf and a dog both run out into a field, they're both displayed there, you can see them plainly. that's not to say that a dog is good and a wolf is bad. these are comparison off the top of anything about a particular candidate, but hillary clinton was the policy wonk that she is. when she was given a policy question she usually tried to answer it, there were some pivots there. in my opinion donald trump struggled with the policy questions much more. there was a lot of distraction that he
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breakdown of a real debate, but we got to see how he operates. i thought that was instructive. craig: okay, fair enough. frank let me turn back to your question about the moderators and the media. can you clarify for us a little more in depth what you were getting at? frank: sure, as far as i understand before the debe moderator might act as a journalist and actually fact check in real time, or that the sponsoring network would provide that sort of interaction with the debate. it was determined that that wouldn't be desirable. it would have been interesting. we can talk about decorum and we can talk about behavior and we can talk about
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journalistically i think what was interesting is the display of a complete disregard for truth, a complete disregard for fact at many points, particularly on the part of donald trump. the ability to counter or deny having said things and done things that were on video tape in other locations on network video really took us down a road that was a long way from an exchang o that journalists are in the business of verifying and triangulating, verifying facts and triangulating evidence and it with a current version of the truth, that was really this particular context. craig: i know there has been a lot of discussion in the media generally about truth telling or the opposite during this campaign. do you all see this as
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candidates that are currently running or is this something that's moving in a direction we don't like? frank: if i can take that shortly, i think it is part of a more general trend and i wouldn't give any one person credit for it. the conventions of evidence and making a case for truth don't hold in the internet. anyone with a keyboard can be a reporter by her own designation. anyone who is a witness to an event can capture video. it's not the same as professional journalism and it's a treatment of evidence. craig: okay, which makes your job as journalism professor either much more
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difficult, i'm not sure which. frank: maybe more interesting, but the way we collect evidence and determine what's socially true is getting outnumber by sports, entertainment and stuff on the internet. craig: okay. let me turn to another question. it seemed to me that immediately after the debate, each one of the debates, one of the first was, "who won the debate?" is that even a relevant question in a presidential debate? bob: i would say yes it's relevant. it's the goal of the candidate, is to win the election. certainly the candidate wants to claim victory and it's up to the
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there's been a winner or a loser. i don't have any difficulty with somebody pronouncing themselves a winner or the other party a loser. i think the real check on all of that is the electorate. craig: what do you mean by that, the electorate bob: we can sort through, we have brains and we can gather information. we can decide if this person is telling the truth or this perso and then those that we find speaking repeatedly falsehoods we hold them accountable at the polls by voting for the truth teller. craig: okay. david do you want to weigh in on that? david: i'm hearing a lot of talk about truth and of course as a philosopher i appreciate that, i'm into that.
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candidate's performance in a debate between candidates for the presidency of the united states, but it also occurs to me that one of the candidates, donald trump, he's an entertainer. he's a real estate guy, he's a business executive and he is an entertainer. the standard by which he might judge a win or a loss might have not has much to do with truth have more to do with looking a certain or sounding a certain way, speaking in a way that motivates his base, maybe it's more image than it is substance or truth. the republican party nominated
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because i think there are people in the republican party who still care about truth. we could about that, but putting an entertainer in the job, in the role of a person who ... it's pretty important that the think. it's a bit of a gamble, it's hard to know what's going to happen but having an entertainer in there does seem to weigh against the role or the importance of truth as a criterion for judging the debates. bob: i would surmise that politicians have historically not always told
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what's unprecedented is the number, the sheer quantity of falsehoods that have been put out into the marketplace. craig: i think that there is also a degree of difficulty if you will in the blatantness of it. we've always been used to politicians spinning things so that it isn't exactly the truth but it kind of resembles it. apparently in numerous blatant lies. frank: i think there's a kind of generational disconnect here because the notion of winning probably had more to do with this sort of junior high bust up game of playing the dozens and scoring points off of each other
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think that ... when we talk about winning a debate it makes me think about what the stakes were. in this case the partisanship is so sharp and so divided that we had belief system versus belief system. i don't think that weighing evidence in an empirical fashion to determine what was true is really what was at stake as much as a kind of boxing match. if i can imagineh this circumstance, it might have been the notion that the election before the first debate was rather close and maybe there were people who were undecided who might be persuaded to go to one side or the other. that fell apart on style points i think along the way. i want to question the idea that this was the kind of transaction we were talking about. i don't think people were necessarily persuadable in either case, it was more of a
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craig? craig: sure, sure. david: i was reading somewhere that presidential debates rarely have much of an impact on voter preferences. do you know if that's correct? frank: generally speaking it is. when lord benson told dan quayle, "i knew john kennedy and you know john kennedy," that was exciting. i was in the democratic party that night, we all hopped up and down and it made no difference at all. the polarization between the two parties i think made high stakes seeming reality tv within what we thought was a debate. bob: some historians would say that nixon/kennedy debate was significant as far as moving some voters a certain direction. frank: sure. craig: if i remember correctly, much of that was physical appearance, wasn't
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shadow. frank: he didn't let them put make up on him. also there weren't five hundred million websites to distract you from the nightly news. the media system was quite different at that time. i think it was in that year that the nightly news went from fifteen to thirty minutes in the evening at all. bob: nixon reportedly won among those listening to him on the radio but the tv viewers thought kennedy had prevailed. craig: let me come back to something you said bob about voters having their own minds and thinking through this. as i was watching the final presidential debate and mr. trump talked about reserving the right to contest the election, i really didn't think much about that because i figured that was donald trump
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trump does and that became almost immediately after the debate ended the major talking point for the media. it has become a big part of that. are we being influenced as much or more by the media as the candidates themselves? frank: i think the media are reacting to a convention that we inaugurate new presidents and they shake hands and hand over power in a peaceful and civil fashion because that's what americans do. i agree, i thought that donald trump was just performing. i didn't take offense at the way he said that but i think that again the context is different between what we expect from this process in a historical sense and
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entertainment. craig: again i'm going to come back based on your answer, is this a trend or is this peculiar to this election? any of you. david: i would defer to an historian of the media. frank: i'm not a futurist but the cat's out of the bag. i don't think donald trump is a trend, i think there's one of him. i expect that will be the end of the willingness to play fast and loose with the truth may be something that's slipping farther and farther out of our view. bob: the explosion of money into the political process, the explosion of media outlets, i think adds to this mix of what we have for public discourse these days. we perhaps grew up
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the nightly news, but now you can key into whatever you want and confirm your opinions whether they're fact based or otherwise. craig: as a philosopher how do you combat that? david: boy. i'm not sure i know how to answer that question just yet but i'd like to come back to something very presidential, avoid the question. david: i'm pivoting. that's a tough question that you ask but there's another tough question which is the one that frank just raised. we no longer have ... this presidential debate anyway does not seem like a contest between people who as you were saying, they don't share the same
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same system. frank: not at all. david: there is the constitution and that is the system that they are supposed to be working within, but from the standpoint of party politics they're very far apart question is, how do you settle truth claims when the contesting parties don't agree, don't share the same criteria of truth? frank: in the 1920s walter lippmann thought that elections were a sublimation of mob violence and that we attained civilization by agreeing to a process. i'm not so sure that we're as close to that this year as he thought we might be then. david: our feet are closer ... the mob violence is not so sublimated. frank: the dissimilarities and antagonisms between the two
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gotten so hot. the broader of context of politics in the western european and north atlantic community is so fraught right now, i would hope we would sublimate more than that. craig: that would be nice but i see your point, that the conflicts are coming ever closer to the surface. vid: was a big deal that trump suggested that he might not accept the results of the election, i was on the edge of my couch, my hair stood on end. that seems like a big deal to me. by saying that, what i hear with a feeling of apprehension is he is keeping a resort to mob violence in his options. he's keeping that option on the table. what
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results? his people, his supporters would be ... what would they do? that is a question. frank: i think you're right but the tricky thing there is to play both of sides of the fence and to be a reality television entertainer and a politician he's supposed to be a states man that different audiences are watching and the message is clear to them terms. it's risky to behave like that. craig: bob you started to say something. bob: i'd also shook when i heard him say that and i've spent a number of years in election law and early years in and saw all kinds of voter fraud and fixed elections and rigged outcomes. when i guy running for president makes that statement it's like a thunderbolt, saying,
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have said it as he tried to the next day, i think he backed it down, tried to compare it to bush versus gore et cetera, but i think the cat was out of the bag. craig: this conversation has taken us in a direction that i'm guessing don't leave our viewers feeling very good. let me ask, turning from the you see our political system going in the next couple of decades? bob: i'm optimistic, i think will be very important. i think it will be time for the real leaders in the republican party to stand up and the real leaders in the democratic party to come together. i remain optimistic, this is a
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incumbent on hillary clinton as the apparent projected winner to embrace the needs and concerns of the people who are threatening to upset the after the election. i think they have a credible stake in the country and they have concerns that need be addressed and it would be really important for the democrats to pay attention. david: i appreciate less optimistic than you bob. it's not only the leaders who have to set their differences aside and seek common ground and make compromises and so on. we have become more polarized as an electorate. there are studies you can read about how democrats only live in neighborhoods with other
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republicans. we're a nation of immigrants, we have people in our country wanting to participate in the american experiment less familiar with the constitution maybe, although with mr. who knows, bringing their own backgrounds and experiences to bear on the conversation of our democracy. that is a difficult conversation but i don't see that it can go very far i i 2 c1 3 you're watching kcrg-tv9. now, from your 24 hour news source, this is kcrg-tv9 news at 10 . homelessness is on the decline in the u-s. still, about one million used a
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hillary clinton says it's no coincidence the fbi is reopening an investigation into her emails with only about a week until the election. and do negative ads work? the gazette's erin jordan weighs in on the debate over two different styles of campaigning. you're watching kcrg-tv9. now, from your 24 hour news source, this is the kcrg-tv9 saturday morning news. joining us. we begin with first alert storm team meteorologis t britley ritz. a lingering drop of rain is possible early, otherwise we'll see mostly cloudy to partly cloudy skies at times throughout the afternoon. now that the cold front has passed through temperatures will be back where they should be for this time of year. expect highs only topping out into the 50s. however a warm front will begin to lift and winds


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