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Special Report

How Fair and Balanced Is the Media in Covering the Presidential Race?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Fair and Balanced?

A new poll indicates Americans think the media have been tougher on Republican candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin than their Democratic rivals.

A Pew Research poll says 38 percent of those surveyed believe journalists have been too harsh with Palin. Twenty-three percent say the media have been too tough on McCain.

In contrast, just seven percent think Barack Obama has been roughed up and only five percent believe that about Joe Biden.

Palin also gets the short end of the stick when it comes to fairness. Only 38 percent believe she has gotten a fair shake. Sixty-six percent say the media have been fair to Biden. Obama and McCain both came in at 60 percent.

Commercial Appeal

Senator Obama will pay NBC and CBS almost $1 million each for a half-hour prime-time campaign ad October 29 — six days before the election. Media reports say Obama has secured the 8 p.m. eastern slot on CBS for $961,000 and on NBC for $891,000.

Those prices are not what normal advertisers would pay. They are based on what is called "lowest unit cost" — the rate networks are required to charge candidates under federal law. The Obama campaign is also talking to ABC and FOX about similar deals.

Ballot Blunder

Senator Obama's last name is spelled "Osama" on hundreds of absentee ballots mailed to voters in Rensselaer County, New York. The Albany Times Union reports both Democratic and Republican officials are calling it a mistake.

The county's Democratic Commissioner Edward McDonough says, "No question this is an honest mistake innocently done. We catch almost everything," and the county's Republican Commissioner Larry Bugbee says, "We have three different staff members who proof these things and somehow the typo got by us."

The flawed ballots were sent to about 300 voters but so far just a few have called to complain. One voter says, "It's a little suspicious and at least grossly incompetent. If I crossed out the name and wrote in the right spelling my ballot would be invalid?"

Breaking New Ground

The economic downturn has forced many to pinch their pennies while expressing frustration over the world's markets. But there's one business that is booming, and it's because of that frustration.

Sarah's Smash Shack in San Diego allows pent-up patrons to relieve stress by hurling dinnerware and other breakables against a wall as hard as they can. The Smash Shack charges clients $10 and up to pulverize plates and glasses during 15-minute intervals.

The owner will not discuss her clients' problems but says many may be "under financial strain."

Adam DeWitt, an insurance broker who celebrated his birthday with his wife at the Smash Shack says they took out their anger because banks have frozen lending and they cannot buy a home, saying, "It was the best $50 we've spent in the last two years, better than filling up your tank with gas, better than paying interest on your credit card."

FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.