Vital Signs

Marauding Media Mob

A newsman, being thrashed about in the middle of a media mob, shouted, "Don't push me!" Another newsman responded, "You gonna get pushed." A shoving match ensued that would have made any schoolyard dispute look highbrow. An exchange of expletives followed. The press coverage of the 1996 New Hampshire primary was in full swing. This year's primary proved to have more intense media coverage than any previous primary. Grizzled media veterans were amazed at how the candidates were nearly inaccessible because of the sea of reporters perpetually following them. The invasion of New Hampshire by legions of the fourth estate revealed a news media increasingly intrusive and arrogant.

The GOP debate sponsored by WMUR-TV 9 in Manchester provided a showcase for the media's audacious behavior. The press was shuffled into a giant garage in the back of the WMUR studios. The area was set up so the media could interview the candidates and their spin masters after the debate. There were not enough chairs or tables to accommodate the hundreds of reporters who crammed into the garage. One reporter remarked that it reminded him of a Third World bus station.

The press garage became so packed by the time the debate started that movement became nearly impossible. Once the debate was over, a circus-like atmosphere prevailed. The GOP candidates walked in one at a time to answer questions from the hordes of reporters....

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