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Word Count: 1,240
A few hours before dawn Wednesday the nations TV networks foisted their second outrageous blunder of the night on the American people After calling the state of Florida for Al Gore earlier in the evening the same networks announced that George W Bush had won Florida and the White House With a typical flourish NBC anchor Tom Brokaw declared George Bush is the president-elect of the United States But before the sun rose on the East Coast the networks were correcting themselves again acknowledging that Florida was too close to call By then the arrogance of the television networks had compounded a distressing specter The Electoral College might end up giving the presidency to someone who came in second in the countrys popular vote Twenty-four hours after the polls closed across America the reporters and commentators on the airwaves and cable channels seemed to be reeling from the succession of extraordinary events Surely millions of Americans were also stunned as if the previous long night had been a vivid and protracted bad dream In effect the TV networks made a bad situation worse They added to the nights quickly escalating sense of confusion disorientation and uncertainty about the election results Despite their vast resources and profuse assurances that they knew just what they were doing the biggest television outlets ABC CBS NBC CNN Fox and PBS -- incorrectly proclaimed that the winner of the presidential race had been determined The list of those networks is a dishonor roll for American media Like most busy people the executives and journalists who run the news operations of the TV networks dont have much time to spare for soul-searching And its unlikely a lot would change even if some genuine introspection took place Its not a good sign that top execs are treating the networks election-night madness as a public-relations problem The rushed and
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