CNN fesses up on election "debacle"

CNN issued a report Friday blasting not only of its own Election night "debacle" but all network coverage, which, it said, damaged both democracy and journalism.

The colorful report, written by journalism professors Joan
Konner and James Risser, and veteran politico and PBS Think Tank host Ben Wattenberg, concluded that on Election Day 2000, "television news organizations staged a collective drag race on the crowded highway of democracy."

The authors panned the networks' "hyper-competition" since few viewers track network calls, because networks fund their own competition and "because their haste led to two mistaken calls in the state that turned out to hold the key to the outcome of the election." Konner, Risser and Wattenberg believe that played "an important role" in spawning the "rancor and bitterness" that has followed.

CNN said it would no longer use exit polls for projections in close races, although the report recommended using only actual vote tallies in all cases. "If CNN can't make the call in a state at poll closing, it will then only
project a winner in that state using actual vote data from the statewide vote tabulations and key precincts," the network said. - John Higgins