Burriss on Media: Election

Oct 29, 2012

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  It might be hard to believe, but the 2012 election season is rapidly winding down; some of us would say, "not rapidly enough." What with all of the mud-slinging and attack ads we've seen in both print and broadcast, it's a wonder anyone knows where any of the candidates stand on anything.

So I thought it might be fun to take a little break from all of this, and take a short stroll down nostalgia, or perhaps amnesia, lane, just to look at what has gone on in election coverage before.

On November 7, 1916, Lee De Forest broadcast the Charles Evans Hughes-Woodrow Wilson election returns, taken from the New York American. He incorrectly predicted a Hughes victory.

Four years later, in 1920, KDKA, Pittsburgh, began operations by broadcasting the Harding-Cox election returns. This broadcast is thought not only to be the first election covered electronically, but also the first-ever regularly scheduled radio broadcast.

On November 3, 1948, the Chicago Tribune ran the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" story. The mistake was made even more famous when other newspapers carried a photograph of the victorious Truman holding up the erroneous newspaper story.

In 1962, Richard Nixon, having lost California's gubernatorial race, held what he called his "last press conference," telling reporters, "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more."

But these are all old-fashioned problems. Who can forget the infamous “hanging chads” in the 2000 election? Then there were the polling debacles in 2000, 2002 and 2004 when the broadcast networks were predicting one set of winners, but the actual victors turned out to be someone else. And who was too blame? Of course, it couldn’t be the pollsters. Instead, errors were attributed to the weather, the distance interviewers had to stand from the voting locations, computer errors and power disruptions.

Over the years we've seen attack ads, introductory ads, position ads and negative ads. We've seen campaign literature, speeches and rallies. We've read newspapers, watched television and listened to radio. But now it's time to put all of that information, but real and distorted, to work. So do your part to make sure the system does what it’s supposed to. Get out and vote.

I'm Larry Burriss