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« Galling Ethnocentric Humor | Main | Media Fairness: Democratic Activist Plants Get To Ask Questions At Democratic Debates; To Be Even Handed, Democratic Activist Plants Also Get To Ask Questions At Republican Debates »
November 29, 2007

Debate Lowlights

Video of CNN pulling out all the stops for Hillary.

People are arguing on NRO, and here, over whether this debate was unfair and stacked against the actual Republican candidates. I say "unfair," myself. The clear winner of the Republican debate was Gen. Keith Kerr, a member of Hillary's LGBT steering committee, given approximately half as much time to voice his opinions as Tom Tancredo or Duncan Hunter or Fred Thompson.

The media cuteness on this is insufferable. They know they're not supposed to give partisan speeches at debates, so instead they merely invite hardcore partisans and give them the mic for five minutes. Hillary's plant, as well as the liberal activists and union representatives and Democratic hacks chosen to grill the candidates dominated the debate:

I'm going to be traveling for the rest of the day and won't be able to follow it, but if the reports of Edwards supporters, Obama supporters, and union activists, along with Gen. Kerr, asking questions last night are accurate, then the YouTube debate might well shape up as something between a fiasco and a disgrace for CNN. Democrats would not even appear for a debate on Fox News, where they would have been questioned by experienced and respected journalists like Brit Hume and Chris Wallace. But Republicans went ahead with the CNN/YouTube show, where they were questioned by…well, some questionable characters.

Was Keith Kerr's question fair? Well, sure, the question was fair. The staging of a sympathetic Hillary plant to ask it live, and seemingly without end, was not. CNN will argue they didn't know he was a Hillary plant (despite the fact it was easy enough to find out; he was found on Google to be a plant within minutes of the debate's end). But so what if they didn't know his partisan affiliation? What the hell were they doing handing the show over to him for a solid five or seven minutes anyway?

It made for sharp questioning and good drama. But if that's the name of the game, let me suggest to CNN that they allow a paralyzed veteran with limbs missing due to an IED attack similarly grill the Democratic candidates on whether they support the Democratic Congress' determination to choke off all monies needed for the military's anti-IED program. Give him the mic, live, and let him harangue the Democrats on the viciousness of IEDs, and the viciousness of them putting soldiers' lives, and limbs, in jeopardy to appease their netroots base.

Would CNN ever do such a thing? Of course not. There would be no vetting of whether he was affiliated with any campaign because there would never even be a thought of letting him grill the Democrats at all.

So CNN can fuck itself sideways with their claims of "just allowing ordinary Americans to voice their concerns." They choose which "ordinary Americans" get to ask questions; they're nothing but sock-puppets for the political agenda of CNN. The moment they begin allowing sympathetic figures to embarrass Democrats, I'll call them fair. But they won't -- the Democrats get protected, the Republicans get embarrassed.

Even the right-wing (or supposedly right-wing) questioners in these debates are chosen for their scare value. I remember at the last CNN You Tube debate -- the Democratic one -- when their question about gun rights was posed by a frankly frightening character who demonstrated a nearly sexual fascination with his weapons, calling them his "babies" (presumably, the babies he molests at night). They could have chosen, I'm sure, a dozen gun-rights questions from a dozen more reputable and more reasonable folks... instead, they put the gun-rights question in the mouth of just the sort of character that gives gun rights a bad name.

Given that a guy you wouldn't trust with a butter knife was asking if he could have all the M-16s he could possibly want for his regularly-scheduled schoolyard killing spree, it was rather easy for Joe Biden to call this nutjob what he was and say something along the lines of "You're exactly the moron I'm thinking of when I'm voting for gun control laws." And of course most of America agreed; hell, even I agreed.

They could have featured, say, Glenn Reynolds or Eugene Volokh making a smart constitutional and policy argument on behalf of gun rights; instead, they select the mad sniper from The Jerk.

Same deal in this debate: Yes, many of the questions addressed right-wing concerns, but in almost every case those posing the questions discredited the right-wing position through their buffoonery and strangeness. This time we get a fucking survivalist asking the gun rights question.

As for religion, we get a moon-eyed zealot asking whether the candidates believe "this particular book" -- that is, the King James Version of the Bible, believed by Protestants but not by Catholics and, presumably, Mormons to be the true revelation of God -- attempting, it seems, to remind everyone that Giuliani and (guessing) Tancredo are Catholics and Romney is a Mormon, and basically attempting to turn a 2007 Republican debate into a bitter rehash of Martin Luther's indictment of the Catholic Church. (The candidates ignored the intent of the question, but CNN put it out there just the same.)

So no, I'm not buying that CNN was an honest broker here. The questioners they featured were either Democratic plants or true-believing right-wingers, but precisely the sort of right-wingers that give the rest of us right-wingers the shivering douchechills. We, frankly, attempt to hide them most of the time, as the Democratic Party attempts to hide its own nuts and fruitcakes; but the media helps the Democratic Party hide theirs, while it gives our unsavory maniacs center stage. They allow people in the hospital to make a heart-tugging and pro-Democrat case for universal health care, while the Republicans get questions about de-regulating the leatherworking industry from Jame Gumb of Silence of the Lambs.

Hey, I'm Not Looking For a Religious Fight Either! Wardrobe Door writes:

Whoa, Ace! Don't pin this whole King James Version only thing on all of us Protestants/evangelicals. As a conservative evangelical, who is not a loon fundamentalists, I've had my own personal run-ins with them.

Just as that guy is a mischaracterization of conservatives, he is also a mischaracterization of Christian conservatives.

You miss my intent. I'm not "pinning" this on evangelicals. Anyone can believe in whatever book they want (and most believe other versions are at least partly in error).

My point is that this was a divisive question chosen for 1) the guy's self-discrediting demeanor and 2) to turn a political debate into a rather irrelevant argument over whether the KJV, or some other version of the Bible, is the true word of God.

Ever seen CNN express interest in, say, questioning Hillary's (supposed) Protestantism/Methodism and whether or not she believes her millions and millions of Catholic voters are in fact in metaphysical error?

CNN was basically seeking to make Catholicsm vs. Protestantism or Mormonism vs. Protestantism a wedge issue. If CNN thinks that's a smart, tough line of questioning, I invite them to ask if Barack Obama specifically repudiates his early Muslim upbringing and will renounce Islam as a false religion (as all Christians must believe) and whether, say, Hillary Clinton believes that millions of Catholics are in error as regards the value of works in salvation and hence are in real jeopardy of going to Hell.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:54 PM

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