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The CNN – YouTube debate: Or why I find politics frustrating.

CNN people get paid a lot of money, and no one pays me anything to engage in media politics. Yet I could rig a debate much less crudely than they did. It would be easy – I would simply pick questions, from the thousands of suggestions, that would make the Republicans look bad. I would not pick Democrat activists to ask the questions, on the contrary I would pick Republicans or real independents. There is no need to present Democrats as Republicans or undecided people.

For example, on the Log Cabin (i.e. homosexual) Republican question – I would have picked a real Log Cabin Republican, not got an Obama supporter. Nor would I have got two John Edwards supporters in to pretend to be undecideds. And I certainly would not have got a person who is on two of Senator Clinton’s committees to ask a “when did you stop beating your wife” question (about why the evil Republican candidates did not think American men and women in uniform “were not professional enough to work with gays”) – and then given him a come back after the replies so that he could denounce the Republicans again.

It was just so crude, as were the “we did not know who these people were” lies afterwards. After all the “General” was not a random face on the internet – he had been carefully chosen and had been flown in. Why are the CNN people paid so much money, when then can not even rig a debate with any skill?

Only on the “gun control” stuff did they get close to doing the rigging game well. The people chosen to ask the questions were chosen because of their aggressive manner (which seems to have a been their real manner – i.e. they were not actors putting on a show). The subtext being “people who are against gun control are nasty”.

But the rest of the presentation was pathetic.

As for the candidates:

Mike Huckabee is supposed to have done really well. For example, he turned a how would you control government spending question into an attack on the IRS.

And Fred Thompson is supposed to have done really badly. For example he gave specific policy ideas on tax, social security and the rest of the entitlement programs.

I would turn the judgement of “really well” and “really badly” on its head – perhaps that explains why no one pays me to be involved in media politics.

8 comments to The CNN – YouTube debate: Or why I find politics frustrating.

  • David

    I sat this one out because of its absurd premise and historically incompetent hosts, and your descriptions make me feel better about the decision.

    And Nanny Huckabee’s recent surging in popularity and palatability is of major concern.

  • Blatant liberal bias among the major news media doesn’t exercise me anymore. It’s just a given, part of the political chessboard in this country. Fortunately the internet age has blessed us with so many route-arounds that the MSM can’t stage-manage public opinion quite so easily anymore. Hard to be a gate-keeper when the walls are down.

  • Nick M

    Fortunately the internet age has blessed us with so many route-arounds that the MSM can’t stage-manage public opinion quite so easily anymore.

    …if we can be arsed. How many people get their news from the ‘net just go to the websites of the same old MSM sources such as the BBC or The Guardian? Even if they visit genuine new media sites, how many just hang-out at the likes of DailyKos? I have Digg on my iGoogle homepage and while some interesting stuff shows up sometimes their is a blatant left-wing bias. OK, fine, it’s choice and all that and we can read Samizdata and the like but… There’s a limit to what can be achieved without reaching out and persuading people beyond the libertarian flock. I mean, that’s if we really want to change the world and not just be able to find news that chimes with our worldview.

  • Paul Marks

    It was not the bias that astonished me – I expected it.

    It was the crude methods that astonished me.

    It was as if CNN had got a lot of Republicans along to the Democrat debate and got them to ask questions designed to make the Democrats look bad.

    All you need are the QUESTIONS – they do not have to be read out by activists for the other side.

    It would have been EASY to find a few stupid undecided people (real undecided people – not people pretending to be undecided, who can be found out with a few seconds research on the net) to ask the questions.

    After all there were thousands of questions suggested – a few dumb questions must have been suggested by real undesideds, or ever supporters of the various Republican candidates.

    But no – CNN had to bring in supporters of various Democrats to ask the questions.

    It was pathetic. Not a matter of “right and left” just a matter of sloppy and useless. If I was on the left I might well be more angry – as the attack was so crude it has rebounded.

    As for the “General” – not only is he on various Clinton committees, he was a Kerry supporter back in 2004.

    On Nick’s point:

    I hope times have changed Nick.

    These days it is not just a few people on the internet who know the CNN debate was rigged farce – the information is out there on cable news (thanks to F.N.C.) and on talk radio.

    “Yes, but it is not in the broadcast television stations and it is not in the mainstream newspapers – so most of the country does not know that the CNN debate was a rigged farce”.

    True enough, and I do not know how the information can be got to people who neither go to investigative news places like the Drudge Report, or the conservative websites such as Townhall.com or National Review on line – and do not watch Fox and do not listen to talk radio.

    It is a problem – but I have to believe that most people get to know something even if it is only “CNN is really the Clinton News Network”.

    If I thought that most people never got to hear of anything (apart from what the elite want them to know) – well then I would be even more grim than I already am.

  • Midwesterner

    But as Glenn just linked, the times, they is a changin’.

  • Nick M

    Paul,
    But… I have had comments delayed by Samizdata but I have never had a comment allowed through by the BBC, and rarely by The Times. The Times was, years ago, a liberal newspaper. I guess it’s now a “liberal” newspaper. I am not a “classical liberal” or even a Libertarian. I’m the real deal. Of course, Barack Obama or Michael Moore might claim to be a “liberal” but then, if that is taken seriously, I might as well claim to be a fluent speaker of Swahili. Liberals, as I understand it, do not… Ah, where do I begin. Liberals, in my book, believe in freedom before equality, especially when that equality means the recourse to the lowest common denominator. I would much rather we had some good schoolz’n'ospitals than state required mediocrity which ensured everyone was educated or treated equally abysmally. I know I’m heading well OT but surely this is the point?

    It’s so simple. There is no way ever that every cancer patient or every primary school kid can get equivalent treatment or tuition. Such an idea is deeply offensive to surgeons or teachers. Christ all fucking mighty don’t they realize that if you don’t get competition then essentially any old crap can get on.

    I can’t believe it. My job involves me doing my absolute level best for my clients. It doesn’t involve me attempting to provide an egalitarian service.

  • The real problem with the debate is not the implanted questioners but CNN. If a debate is set up and a broadcaster picks what questions will be asked, all we get is that broadcaster’s slant. People who don’t think like CNN don’t get their questions asked.

    I believe that policy organizations such as Cato and Brookings and Heritage Foundation should be the ones sponsoring debates. Let the media sit back and simply report the debates and not engineer them.

  • Paul Marks

    You have a point Mr Henderson. You may well be correct.

    Nick:

    Interesting – politics has gone so far to the left that people like you and me are allies, whereas a couple of centuries ago (or less) we would not have been.

    In Manchester in the 1830′s you and your fellow Liberals would have been trying your level best to use local government to make the city a better place.

    And you would have been up against black hearted reactionaries like me, who would rather risk typhoid than pay a penny more on the Rates/Property Tax (of course I would have supported a private effort, but if there was none….).

    But you do not believe that everyone can have the same level of education or health care (or the same level of most things) – so, as far as the left are concerned, that makes you as much a black hearted reactionary as me.

    It is not fair for you.

    A lot of the abuse that has been tossed at me over the years is quite justified – I really do not think that government can be used to make things better (I AM a reactionary).

    But as a liberal you do think that government can do some things – you just do not think it can do everything.

    The world must be even more irritating for you than it is for me.

    For example, in Northamptonshire we are between fifty and sixty million Pounds in the hole on road repairs.

    In the United Kingdom we have some of the highest taxes on car use in the world (fuel tax, car tax, road tax and so on) yet very little of this money gets to the County Councils responsible for most road repairs.

    And what little money the government sends gets put through various “Regional” bodies – which means that Northamptonshire is not going to see much of it.

    And the government is forcing yet more “developments” upon us – so the roads, which are already falling apart, are going to be used by even more people.

    The above is how I EXPECT government to operate (without proper private Turn Pike Trusts, or whatever, of course things are going to be a mess).

    But for a traditional liberal like yourself (a person who thinks that government, in moderation, can achieve some things) the above must be very frustrating indeed.