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RC practice Passage with Explanation -12

Every four years voters across the United States elect a president. Various factors such as choices in campaign locations, the candidates' adherence to polling data and use of the Internet by candidates to reach potential voters all influence the preference of those voters, but perhaps none of these is so persuasive as a candidate's performance on nationally televised debates just prior to the election. Newspapers and television news programs generally attempt to provide thorough coverage of the debates, further augmenting the effect of good or bad candidate performances.

In this way, the news media fulfill the traditional role of educating the public and enabling voters to make better informed decisions about elected officials. However, the same technology which brings live debates into millions of living rooms across the nation also limits the availability of debate coverage by use of "pool " coverage, the sharing of news coverage with other news organizations. The alternative is unilateral coverage, in which each news organization covers the event independently. Most events subject to pool coverage are so planned by the sponsors because of space limitations or safety concerns for prominent people attending or participating in the events. Since the television media require more people and equipment than their print counterparts, television usually is affected more frequently.

The pool system, when employed to cover debates between presidential nominees of the major political parties, violates the first amendment. The Constitution's mandate for a free press allows restrictions on press coverage only when there is a compelling governmental interest at stake. Presidential debates involve no interest sufficient to justify the admission of one news organization to the exclusion of all others.

Pool coverage of a presidential debate means that individual broadcasters are unable to cover the event in their own way and, consequently, to convey a unique account to their viewers; they must purchase and use coverage provided by the pool representative or have no coverage at all. The networks participate reluctantly. Pool coverage denies an opportunity to gain maximum insight from the debate. Indeed, the first amendment freedoms afforded the press exist largely to ensure that the public benefits from the free flow of information. The Supreme Court has noted that "it is the right of viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount. "

To overcome the problem of restricted access, television news media could be divided into four categories: domestic networks, foreign news services, domestic news services, and independent broadcasters. Some broadcasters would be denied access, but the critical point is that in the end, the viewers will benefit, for they will have seen different debate coverage and, ultimately, will be better informed.


For which of the following claims does the passage provide some supporting evidence or explanation?

[A] News organizations tend not to cooperate with each other unless they are forced to do so.
[B] Most presidential candidates fare poorly in televised debates because they are not good public speakers.
[C] Current news coverage of presidential debates limits the information available to the public.
[D] Foreign news organizations have generally been uninterested in American presidential debates.
Option: 3

Remember that the right answer must not only be a claim made by the passage, but also must have supporting evidence in the passage. (C) is the only claim actually made, and is also supported by evidence throughout the passage, especially paragraph 4.

Wrong answers:

(A): Distortion. While the author claims that news organizations participate in the pool system reluctantly, there's no indication that they're forced to cooperate.

(B): Out of Scope. The author never discusses this point.

(D): Opposite. The author recommends that foreign news organizations be given a place at debates, suggesting that they are interested in them.


In spite of what her challengers might argue, the author of this passage would probably give her greatest support to which of the following actions?

[A] A decision to allow more news services to cover presidential debates
[B] A decision to allow fewer news services to cover presidential debates
[C] A decision to ban presidential debates until more news services are allowed to cover them
[D] A decision to ban presidential debates until fewer news services are allowed to cover them
Option: 1

Make sure you're clear on the author's apparent purpose for writing the passage, as well as any suggestions she offers. Scan the answer choices for something that reflects these key ideas. (A) is exactly what the author is arguing for; take the quick points.

Wrong answers:

(B): Opposite. Precisely what the author is arguing against.

(C): Distortion. The author argues that the current system is flawed, but not that debates should be abolished altogether as a result.

(D): Opposite. Again, the author wants more news services.


Assume for a moment that the claims made in the passage are completely correct. In light of this, what prediction could be made regarding how presidential candidates would to react to the pool system?

[A] They would support the pool system but ask for modifications to it.
[B] They would strongly endorse the pool system as it now stands.
[C] They would strongly reject the pool system as it now stands.
[D] They wouldn't necessarily endorse or reject the pool system.
Option: 4

Ask yourself how candidates would react to the change. The author never mentions candidates' reactions to the current system, and there's no indication that a change would impact the candidates themselves. Look for an answer choice that matches this "so what? " prediction. (D) rewards the paraphrase.

Wrong answers:

(A): Out of Scope. There's no evidence of this in the passage.

(B): Out of Scope. As above.

(C): Out of Scope. As above.


In discussing the reluctance of networks to participate in pool coverage, the phrase maximum insight (second last paragraph), in the context of the passage, refers to:

[A] the thoroughness with which presidential candidates present their opinions during debates.
[B] the relative quality of debate coverage provided by domestic and foreign news organizations.
[C] the level of political awareness viewers could have if the pool system was modified to permit more varied debate coverage.
[D] the extent to which voters take into account what they have heard during debates when choosing candidates in elections.
Option: 3

Back to the passage: the phrase is used in the context of something being denied the voters because of the pool system's limitations. Search for an answer choice that matches up with this. (C) just restates "maximum insight " as what would come about if the limitations of the pool system weren't in place.

Wrong answers:

(A): Out of Scope. The author never mentions the thoroughness of candidates.

(B): Faulty Use of Detail. The author proposes this in the last paragraph, but it would be a step towards achieving "maximum insight, " not the insight itself. 

(D): Faulty Use of Detail. The author discusses this in paragraph 1, but not in the context of "maximum insight ".


According to the passage, which of the following would be the most likely outcome of a Supreme Court decision that abolished the pool system in favor of greater media access to presidential debates?

[A] Independent broadcasters would have fewer opportunities to cover presidential debates.
[B] Voters would be better informed about the policies advocated by presidential candidates.
[C] Television news would replace newspapers as the primary source of information for voters.
[D] Presidential candidates would be less enthusiastic about debating their electoral opponents.
Option: 2

Consider how the author would respond to this. She would look favorably on it because it would rectify a First Amendment violation and increase voters' access to diverse ideas. (B) fits in with these ideas nicely.

Wrong answers:

(A): Opposite. A court decision like this would be designed precisely to give independent broadcasters more opportunities.

(C): Out of Scope. The author never mentions the relative prominence of the two media in the passage.

(D): Opposite. The author isn't concerned with what the candidates think.


Based on information and argumentation given by the author in the passage, which of the following statements is NOT true?

[A] Domestic news services are allowed greater access to presidential debates than foreign news services.
[B] Concern for the safety of presidential candidates is one reason why media access to presidential debates has been limited.
[C] An important influence on voter behavior in presidential elections is candidate performance in presidential debates.
[D] The contemporary pool system provides adequate news coverage of presidential debates.
Option: 4

Form a rough prediction by reviewing the basic arguments within the passage: The pool system is unfair and inadequate and needs to be changed. Eliminate the things that must be true based on the passage and keep an eye out for something that violates a claim in the passage or has no effect on it. The first three can be knocked out quickly, but even without elimination (D) jumps out as saying exactly the opposite of what the passage is trying to demonstrate.

Wrong answers:

(A): Opposite. You can infer this from the last paragraph.

(B): Opposite. This is stated more or less explicitly in paragraph 2.

(C): Opposite. This is one of the big points of paragraph 1.

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