NEWSWATCH: The Well-Balanced Fight Card

Reporters sometimes think of themselves as fight promoters, setting one news source against another. In election year 1980 the press has become much more than that. Since no one else seems in charge—state and national chairmen of the two parties count for very little—the nation's news organizations have assumed the role of matchmaker for the campaign, much like an oldtime boxing impresario.

The press weighs and sets the odds (ready with instant polls, so a candidate can't poor-mouth his chances in advance). It reproves any candidate who isn't making his weight. It admonishes a candidate who steps out of line. It...

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