ABC Abuse Shows Union, Democrats, Out of Touch

Excerpts from the Omaha World News’Nov. 9 editorial: “Democrats Trespass in a Private Matter.” — “Vice President Al Gore showed bad judgment when he stiffed an ABC News reporter on election night because of a labor dispute at the network. Gore, who is courting organized labor for support of his presidential bid in 2000, put politics ahead of doing the right thing. The day before the election, about 2,200 ABC camera workers, publicists, producers, writers and editors staged a one-day walkout in several major cities in a dispute about health coverage policies. The network refused to let strikers come back to work the following day because they would not promise to give advance notice of future work stoppages.

The president of the Communications Workers of America asked the Democratic and Republican Parties to deny interviews to ABC and its affiliates. Gore responded by refusing to see an ABC reporter who had flown to Seattle for a prearranged interview with the vice president. White House policy, a spokesman said, is to not grant special access to news organizations engaged in labor disputes. Somewhere in the tortured logic of the White House, reducing the flow of information to the public about the national electoral process has a connection to a private labor dispute.

Gore was not the only prominent Democrat to shun ABC. Victorious Senate candidate Charles Schumer in New York banned ABC from his headquarters. The power cord carrying ABC’s television feed at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, site of Schumer headquarters, was cut. Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, head of the Democratic National Committee, backed out of an appearance on “Good Morning America.” In San Francisco, an ABC crew was kicked out of incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer’s reelection celebration. Later the crew was admitted – after the local ABC station had sought a court order to gain admittance. The winner of the race for California governor, Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, retracted a ban on ABC at his headquarters only when the network took the matter to court.

The politicians’ boycott of ABC showed no class and ultimately denied information to ABC’s viewers. This was a private dispute between labor and management, not a public policy matter. The Democrats should not have taken sides.”