Same Story, Two Networks: CBS, NBC Differ on Arizona Republic Story
After the Arizona Republic endorsed a democratic presidential candidate for the first time in its 126-year history, outraged readers launched death threats at the paper’s staff.
On Oct. 17, as part of a package about rising tensions in the elections, NBC devoted 20 seconds to the threats.
Mi-Ai Parrish, president of the Arizona Republic, said people are spitting on students selling subscriptions and a man threatened to pour boiling water on anyone who comes to his house on the paper’s behalf.
On Oct. 19, CBS ran a nearly three-minute package about the paper’s endorsement and subsequent firestorm.
CBS reporter Lee Cowan detailed the rude, hateful and threatening emails and phone calls to the paper.
However, the tone of calls and emails improved after Parrish wrote another editorial thanking those who respectfully disagreed with the paper.
Was it a mistake for NBC not to include how things are getting better at the paper and therefore promote a more fearful tone? Was what NBC did sufficient to tell the story or did it need to be done in the way CBS did? Is this story important enough to warrant coverage from all of the networks?
Carol Marin, political editor for NBC Chicago, said she doesn’t quarrel with the way each network covered the story.
“Someone at NBC decided they wanted a multifaceted story with examples of how the climate in and around this election has become poisonous,” Marin said. “What CBS did was pull out in a fuller way this one instance and I think each is valid.”
Marin said the networks have more discretion when covering this story which is not breaking news and likes that the three networks did not “march in step”.
“It’s a fascinating story to me, but then, I’m the press, Marin said. “I think this is a jump ball.”
This story illuminates the rising tensions between politics and media during this election. Programs with limited airtime have to decide which stories warrant coverage. This story is valuable but not mandatory.