Hot Buttons: Talk show topics

By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International
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When President George W. Bush made his speech about the economy last Monday, Fox News and MSNBC blew up the size of their stock market tickers -- filling most of the screen with sinking numbers while reducing the president to a small box. As Bush talked about restoring investor confidence, he was dwarfed by the down arrows: Dow, down 285 -- Nasdaq, down 20 -- S&P, down 27.


White House officials called the networks to complain, according to the Washington Post. Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes calls the super-sizing of the stock tickers "a mistake."

"We shouldn't have done it. The direct link between what the president was saying and what was happening in the market was not accurate and any impact would clearly be delayed," Ailes says.

MSNBC Vice President Mark Effron, however, says, "When the president is making a speech on Wall Street and the economy, it makes sense to do that. We weren't doing it to make any kind of editorial statement. I don't think there was anything wrong with it."


White House spokesman Ari Fleischer calls the split-screen approach "a troubling new development that sensationalizes and distorts what makes markets go up and down."

-- Should television do away with the competing graphics when the president is speaking?

-- Some newspapers seemed to blame the stock market drop to Bush's speech. Is that fair?


Former Vice President Al Gore, while campaigning for fellow Democrats in Tennesee during the weekend, said President Bush is lying about the economy, reports. "I, for one, am concerned about the economy, because ... I was the first one to be laid off," he says.

"With the stock market dropping 400 points, we need to urge the Bush administration to scrap its economic policy and start fresh or in 2004 we will scrap them and start fresh," according to Gore, who is still undecided on whether he will attempt his fifth national campaign in 2004.

Gore says the tax cut, which still is not fully implemented, will lead to bigger deficits than when the elder Bush was in office.

-- Who would be better for the economy, Bush or Gore?

-- Can any president make that much difference in a market economy, which by definition is the result of millions of individual investment and economic decisions?



A decade ago, more than half of high school teens had sexual intercourse while they were in high school. Now new federal data says it appears the tables have turned and virginal teens outnumber the sexually active ones, The Washington Times reports.

The 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report from the Centers for Disease and Prevention in Atlanta asked 13,601 teens about substance use, sexual behavior and physical activity. In 1990, the report found 54.3 percent of teens in grades 9-12 had experienced sexual intercourse. By 2001, however, 54.4 percent of high schoolers said they had not had sex.

The turning point occurred in the mid-1990s, around the time the federal government started funding abstinence programs teaching teens to save sex for marriage, says Peter Brandt of Focus on the Family, a traditional values group in Colorado Springs, Colo.

William Smith, of the Sexuality Information and Education Council, sees a broader explanation for declining teen sexual activity rates. "I think that it coincides with the overwhelming number of young people who are reporting that they are getting HIV/AIDS education and virtually 90 percent of high school students say they are learning about AIDS," he says.


-- In 1996, Congress created Title V, a $50 million-a-year program for abstinence-only education programs. Should it be renewed?

-- Or should the Senate Finance Committee version, which adds a second, $50 million-a-year program for "abstinence-first" programs and sex education on preventing pregnancy and disease, be approved?

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