By Rachel Stengel and Katie Zeck
To understand this midterm election, Americans need to understand one thing: passion is a key ingredient, according toEmmy-winning broadcast news anchor and correspondent David Shuster.
Shuster spoke to students and faculty on Tuesday, exactly two weeks before the 2010 midterm elections. Sweigart Auditorium was filled to capacity
With experience from major networks like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and covering monumental events such as 9/11, the selection of Pope Benedict, the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, Shuster was able to provide that political insight on the midterm elections from a national standpoint.
During the event, hosted by the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, Shuster brought up the Senate race in Delaware and the recent debate between Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell and Democratic candidate Chris Coons, in which O’Donnell appeared not to understand the meaning of the First Amendment.
“That is the kind of election atmosphere we are facing now,” he said. “There is such passion and there is such energy across the country that the traditional sort of boundaries that kept certain candidates from winning a nomination for the United States Senate have been erased.”
Shuster started his career as a young intern at CNN and worked there for several years before moving on to an ABC affiliate based in Little Rock, Ark. Shuster was able to persevere and make his way to becoming the anchor on MSNBC’s Hardball.
“The first thing I would say about the election relates to something that happened in Arkansas; politicians tend to be much more complex, complicated figures than you may see on cable news or the evening newscast,” he said.
After a particularly tough story on the Whitewater scandal and then-Governor Jim Guy Tucker, Tucker called Shuster “the worst reporter in the history of the state of Arkansas.”
Shuster provided many more stories of experience and lessons he’d learned throughout the course of his career to the many students and faculty in attendance.
The remainder of the time was spent on a question-and-answer session. The award-winning news correspondent explored various topics ranging from the biased nature of today’s news and the future of the current news organizations to the upcoming elections and future political landscapes of the nation. Shuster stressed that “the actual news itself is more important than the person delivering it.”
As an attempt to avoid the political biases that the majority of daily news reports contain, and as a way to demystify many of the complex aspects of politics, Shuster suggested acquiring information from a wide spectrum of sources.
“There are blogs, there are these foundations, there are these institutes that have so much information at their fingertips,” he said.
Shuster also encouraged voters to look beyond the commercials and slogans and ask themselves: Can this politician help me and my community? He continued to say that if you are unable to answer that question, you must “demand that journalists help provide you with the information needed to answer it.”
For a large portion of the event, Shuster focused on the accessibility of the news today. Years ago, if someone had missed the evening news there was no way for them to know of the top stories until the next morning’s paper was published. Today, the news is at the public’s disposal within a matter of seconds.
“Because of the speed of the Internet, we’re only a few clicks away from finding out the basic policy positions of any race in the country,” he said.
Shuster challenged those in the audience to dig deep for information that they see on the news or in the paper and learn all that they can about elections and issues.
“Voters have an opportunity to be more informed now, than ever before in our nation’s history,” he said.