Thursday, November 29, 2007

The YouTube Republican Debate: The Day After

Hi everybody! Have you recovered from last night? I don't drink, but I think alcohol consumption will be required with any future republican debate watching that might occur. I mean, what was that? A stage full of people (and by 'people' I mean non diverse white guys) and not a one of them that didn't have something scary/crazy/bigoted to say. Maybe if I was able to pick and choose stances from all of them I could form one single non nightmare-inducing republican worthy of support, but that's not how it works.

I had been planning on doing a post about debate coverage and media synergy and blah, blah, blah. Forget that. There's controversy to cover! And that's so much more fun. Watching the debate, I took a guess that the future hit pieces against CNN (oh, you know there have to be hit pieces) were actually going to involve Anderson and his intermittent loss of control (still love you, Anderson!), but oh no, the haters have bigger fish to fry.

To me, one of the most poignant moments (okay, the only poignant moment) of the debate was when openly gay retired Army general, Keith Kerr asked why gays can't openly serve in the military. Well, it turns out that Kerr isn't just any retired Army general, he was a member of Hillary Clinton's steering committee (here's the video of Anderson getting semi-ambushed by Bill Bennett with the information and then our anchor's explanation after some digging). Now, that information takes nothing away from the question. It was perfectly legitimate and needed to be asked.

However, disclosure is very important when it comes to these issues and for CNN to say they didn't know this guy's affiliation with the Clinton campaign, well, it's a little hard to swallow. Don't get me wrong, I completely believe they didn't know, but man, how did that happen? They're a massive news organization for Pete's sake. As a liberal, my initial pre-thought gut reaction to every political situation that occurs is to defend against whatever the crazies on the Right are saying. Except this time I'm agreeing with what they're saying (okay, well, some of what they're saying) and, dang it, that kind of pisses me off.

Thursday morning, John Roberts interviewed Kerr himself and told him, "Now, perhaps our bad for not further investigating your background..." Um, yes CNN, your bad. Go to the cable news network corner! Anyway, James Joyner of Outside the Beltway gets to the root of the issue:
They simply should have known. If lone bloggers can vet these people in less than half an hour, surely CNN’s crack journalistic team should have been able to do so between the time they selected the pool of questions and the airing of the debate?
Bingo. And you know, maybe this was explained, but I'm wondering why the whole selecting of the questions had to occur up until the last minute. Why couldn't they make the cut off a couple of weeks before the debate? That would give them plenty of time to vet the questions...and keep the egg off their faces. Because according to their statements, it does seem CNN really wishes they looked at this guy closer. Which makes this answer from an interview Anderson did with all the more curious:
Q: There’s been a bit of scandal about the screening that CNN did on its “undecided voters” for the last Democratic debate. The diamonds-and-pearls question was attacked by the questioner herself. There were some allegations that several of the voters were in fact liberal activists on quite a few issues (and one Democratic Party operative). What’s the process for checking these YouTube questioners and their affiliations?

“Well, campaign operatives are people, too. We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions…that’s not our job. Last time around (in the Democrat CNN/YouTube debate), there were questions from Joe Biden’s campaign…and we had some fun with that (disclosing who they were posed by). Things like that are generally pretty obvious. In watching these videos after a while, you can kind of tell, who’s really serious about an issue and who’s just parroting a press release or a talking point.”

So okay, to wrap this up, my view is that CNN made a pretty big fumble here. And reportedly Kerr isn't the only problem. Michelle Malkin has herself in a tizzy, outing "plants" left and right. It looks like some of her claims might have an air of legitness, but I am so not linking to that pile of crazy. Also, as I noted in my last post, I'm a little annoyed about the Grover Norquist question. I thought the YouTube debate was supposed to be about the average citizen getting their chance to question the candidates. Since when is Grover Norquist an average citizen with no access? C'mon. I feel a little bad about my harshness in this post, but CNN does call itself the "most trusted name in news." After last night, Jay Tea of Wizbang has a new slogan ( which he states was "
shamelessly stolen from WKRP In Cincinnati") that might be more appropriate: "CNN: “If It’s News To You, It’s News To Us.”


Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from