ABC News memo a little disturbing

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The Article

Matt Drudge got his hands on an internal ABC News memo sent to ABC News staff, that casts them in a very bad light.

It seems to suggest that they are very concerned that Bush is making headway at the expense of Kerry, and blame that on Bush taking things out of context “in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done” —so therefore ABC News staff should be harder on Bush, or forget about holding both sides “equally accountable”, in their vernacular.

“…our responsibilities become quite grave,” the memo says.

Halperin Memo Dated Friday October 8, 2004

It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns – and our responsibilities become quite grave

I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today – nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn’t mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides “equally” accountable when the facts don’t warrant that.

I’m sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.

It’s up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

Joel Johannesen
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