On The Monitor this week:
- D. Brian Burghart on creating an impartial, comprehensive and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with law enforcement
- Jeff Cohen on why presidential debates should be opened up to all candidates
More about this week’s guests:
D. Brian Burghart is the creator of Fatal Encounters. He is a former editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, a master’s student and often, although not at this moment, a journalism instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He lives in Reno, Nevada and created Fatal Encounters because, as he says: “I believe in a democracy, citizens should be able to figure out how many people are killed by law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths.”
Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is also is cofounder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watch group FAIR.
He recently wrote the piece “TV Networks Should Open Up the Presidential Debates,” which states: “If ten major TV networks got together and decided to nationally televise a presidential debate restricted to Republican nominee Donald Trump and right-leaning Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, while barring other candidates including Democrat Hillary Clinton, it would be recognized as an act of media bias or exclusion. But what if the televised debates this fall are restricted to just Trump and Clinton? That, too, needs to be recognized as an intentional act of media exclusion.
Beginning in 1988, major TV networks granted journalistic control over the debates to a private organization with no official status: the Commission on Presidential Debates. The CPD is often called ‘nonpartisan.’ That’s absurdly inaccurate. ‘Bipartisan’ is the right adjective, as it has always carried out the joint will of the Republican and Democratic parties. The commission grew out of a deal cut in the 1980s by GOP and Democratic leaders. Today, even though the U.S. public largely distrusts the presidential candidates of the two major parties, TV networks seem willing to allow them to again dictate the terms of debate, including who gets to participate.”