By Steve Outing
The uproar over the performance of ABC News presidential debate moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday night was loud and furious. On ABCNews.com, as I write this there have been nearly 19,000 comments posted to the site — the vast majority of them, it appears, blasting the ABC personalities for focusing on political BS and ignoring actual issues.
With both mainstream columnists and the blogosphere criticizing them, Gibson really couldn’t ignore the controversy in tonight’s newscast. Frankly, I expected them to do the standard old-media thing and ignore the public outcry. To ABC News’ credit, Gibson introduced a report by correspondent David Wright that actually addressed the public outcry and criticism. So bravo for that.
I find this whole episode to be significant. No longer do we watch something on a major network that we think is awful and just yell at the TV. When it’s bad enough — as last night’s debate performance by the ABC moderators was — and enough people get angry, their voices will be heard. This is another in a long line of indicators demonstrating the weakening power of traditional media.
Gibson and Stephanopoulos must be feeling humbled tonight, though Gibson during tonight’s news show did his best to hide it and remain detached — even though he had become the news and was not just reporting it.