30 November 2007

CNN/YouTube “Debate” as Entertainment

There’s lots of new around the last two days about question plants, lack of investigation and deleterious motives with regard to the show passed as a debate on Wednesday. Thankfully, I didn’t watch. There was a far more entertaining hockey game on at the same time (the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Lightning, 5-1), and I was hoping to be entertained.

If I had only known that the CNN/YouTube debate would actually be staged theater, I might have gotten more entertainment from watching it – though that is doubtful.

It is highly suspect to allow folks to ask pointed questions and not ask them about their political affiliations. And it’s not that I care what those affiliations are. They do not matter so long as they are out there in the open. It is only fair to the debaters and the viewers, because not only should the answers be weighed and judged, but the questions as well. If folks know that a question comes from an operative of a political foe, that question can be handled and considered differently by both the debater and the audience.

But in the end, it seems that the CNN/YouTube debate has finally caused the primary debates to “jump the shark” into pure entertainment. The issues do not matter nearly as much as the sparing, jabbing, and upper-cuts delivered in the political cage-match of the entertainment debate. And it’s all to the detriment of our political process. It is no wonder that “[n]early two-thirds of Americans do not trust press coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, according to a new Harvard University survey.” (Editor and Publisher article.) It is not news, after all; it’s entertainment!

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