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November 03, 2015

The GOP's List of Debate Demands Are Terrible

Yesterday I read establishment lawyer Ben Ginsburg's proposed draft letter of demands to the media regarding debate format. I was annoyed that few of the demands seemed to address the actual problem in the CNBC debate, which is that Republican candidates were being interrogated by Democratic partisans from a progressive perspective.

Instead, it seemed to talk about everything but that.

I wondered if I was missing something.

Harsyani says no, I wasn't missing something. The demands were terrible.

For starters, the slew of limitations proposed in the letter reportedly drafted by GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg have absolutely nothing to do with the bias of mainstream media moderators and everything to do with attempts to transform GOP debates into infomercials.

Why can't a network film candidates looking at their notes? And why canít they show shots of the audience? What does leaving the mic open have to do with dumb questions? Why does the GOP care if there are candidate-to-candidate questions asked during a candidates' debate? None of these restrictions help with the fundamental problem of Harwood-style gotcha advocacy posing as journalism. A raucous argument with genuine questions and disagreements is somewhat useful and watchable (the first Fox debate featured all of these things).

It looks like the revolt is already crumbling....

So really, the Ginsberg letter only needed to offer two sentences: "We promise to sign off on better moderators next time. We apologize for our stupid mistake."

Some of what Harsyani says is wrong, I think. I don't mind at all if candidates want opening and closing statements -- it is important information about a candidate what he thinks the theory of the campaign is all about, even if this is a scripted answer.

And on that, most answers will be scripted anyway. Furthermore, if you refuse to let these guys directly address the public with what they want to say (rather than what the media wants them to say), they will simply slip their opening and closing statements into their answers to other questions.

A debate is about speeches -- yes, pre-written speeches. That's what debates have always been. The idea that it has to be some kind of spontaneous q-and-a session with reporters -- at reporters' initiative, according to reporters' interests and agendas -- concedes the game from the start.

I also think he's wrong about wanting control over chyrons. CNBC's description of Jeb Bush as a "banker" in their chyron -- forgetting to mention that he was a governor -- is egregious, and the candidates should have input into this. Now maybe no one cares about Jeb per se, but what happens when Ben Carson has the chyron "Political wannabe, rude at breakfasts" and Mario Rubio is described as "Financially dubious Hispanic who likes fast boats and easy living"?

Okay they wouldn't go that far -- but as is seen with Jeb, they'll go a lot damn farther than you might have guessed. They are juvenile and brazen -- they have all the courage of an 8th grader who gives sass to a teacher and doesn't sweat it because his parents are rich and well-connected to the mayor.

But most of this crap is bullshit. And it seems like the candidates had a failure of nerve here, or else Ginsburg ignored decided himself to ignore the real issue, which is rampant, unrestrained partisan media bias.

If they can't dare to speak about this, then they've already lost.

On the "Infomercial" Claim: Dave Reaboi makes a good point:

True. The debate was an infomercial -- for the Hillary Clinton campaign, the DNC, and Gramscian Marxism generally.

There's going to be an infomercial here either way. To suggest the media can be "objective" without forcing them to be so is to continue to play their game, and to bless their claims, and to legitimize this corrupt use of information power. Information power should be held as something like a public trust -- not a political club to be used by intense partisans.

We must stop legitimizing them. In fact, we must delegitimize them, but stopping legitimizing them would at least be a good start.

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posted by Ace at 12:43 PM

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