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How Redstate.org is Responsible for the CNN/YouTube Republican Debate Screw-up

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By now it should be well-known that the recent CNN/YouTube Republican debate featured questions largely from Democratic partisan plants. Ostensibly, CNN claims they didn’t know that the questioners were staffers on various campaigns or left-wing organizations which only goes to show they simply aren’t informed about the subject of their journalism. Shouldn’t a newscaster know what are the likely issues a Republican wants to hear candidates speak on and not rely on what Democrats think the issues are?

If anything, this exercise was a good thing that should end discussion once and for all about the left-wing bias of CNN. Either they colluded with the Democrats or they simply are so steeped in bias they didn’t know the difference. Either way, they’ve become a house organ of the DNC, and whether it is by choice or by ignorance doesn’t matter. YouTube’s anti-conservative bias is well-known and need not be cataloged here. How are we really surprised that this happened?

As a result of the fiasco, Redstate.org and Human Events wants to do a “do-over”. One question, why?

These debates have largely become programmatic with no new real information being conveyed. Newt Gingrich was right in calling these events “auditions”. There can be no debate when answers are restricted to 40 second sound-bites. That’s called a “campaign commercial”.

More importantly, it is the height of hypocrisy that Erick Erickson and his friends are calling for a “do-over” when they are largely responsible for the train-wreck going forward in the first place. In July, after seeing the Democratic version of the debate that featured an inane talking snowman with a global warming sob story, it was obvious the YouTube debate was nothing but amateur hour.

Some Republicans started pushing back against doing it, when Erickson and his friends started having fits of hysteria. The Save the Debate coalition was born with the fist-pumping rage of a teenager yelling at his parents that he should be treated like a grown-up. Several bloggers got together to send petitions around such as Wizbang! and the aptly-named plagiarizing outfit Hot Air. “You can’t write off the internet!” was the slogan of choice.

So, the candidates, to their discredit, caved in and showed up to the debate and it was exactly as puerile as they’d expected it to be. Even without the problem of bias, the questions were generally as inane as they were in the democrat debate. It should be obvious to anyone that when amateurs write the questions, you get an amateur debate. It’s like expecting Wikipedia to be a professional encyclopedia; it simply defies all logic and reason.

Now that the process has been shown to be flawed not once, but twice, Erickson wants to try again. Sorry, you had your chance and quite frankly you don’t matter that much anyway. You corralled everyone into this event and you get to bear the brunt for its failure because it was obvious to any reasoned thinker that this debate was a joke four months ago.

It is a shame that the most viewed presidential debate up to this point was a deeply flawed “fad” debate that failed to really dig into the issues that matter most to this country in any real significant way. It has only further served to sever the people from the politicians making it almost impossible to corner one of these jokers and get them to really answer a question.

There is plenty of blame to go around. To the Democratic candidates who sent plants to the Republican debate – what is this, a student council race? To CNN for being a willing or ignorant dupe – have we tried journalism lately? To the Republicans for not having the intestinal fortitude to make a stand – how can you stand up to Al Qaeda if you can’t stand up to a few self-important has-been bloggers?

The deep irony that the same bloggers that sped this train towards its impending derailment who are now complaining and wanting a “do over” is astounding. And it shows how far blogging has failed to live up the hype and its promise and simply become an outlet (with few exceptions) for the immature to pretend to be important. You blew it guys, let the pros handle the debates now.

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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • http://calledasseen.blogspot.com Harold C. Hutchison

    I think that Redstate and other entities need to explain themselves and why they thought this was a good idea.

    This does not fill me with confidence in their judgment.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Something I remember reading, although I don’t remember where, after the UTube Dem debate was that the questions chosen were not particularly representative of most that had been submitted. That, in fact, a number of good, relevant questions had been submitted, but were pushed aside in favor others that would “play better” on TV. While some really off the wall and totally stupid submissions were rightly not considered, it was apparent that quirkiness and eccentricity were given significant preference. I think the same holds true for the Rep/UTube debate.

    For the uninitiated, UTube and the like might as well come from Mars. The UTube debates had the effect of further distancing such people from the internet in the certainty that cyberspacers are, for the most part, out of touch nutjobs. If any further such “debates” should be scheduled for either side, a much more responsible approach to the selection process should be taken.

    The content of any televised presidential debate should not be predicated upon its entertainment value. That’s not to say that the odd question conducive to lighter moments during the process should not be given air. It can be instructive to see how the various candidates handle some off the wall questions, to see if they can be a little self-depracating, if they can be gracious in response to some light hearted poking and prodding, to see how they answer questions without resorting to their “stump speech” monologues. But such fare should not be the locus around which presidential debates are developed. Presidential debates should not be reduced to an opportunity for anyone who has a computer, internet access, a video camera and a snowman suit in the attic to get their fifteen minutes of fame.

    B-tone

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    If FOXNews had sabotaged the Democrat candidates** in this manner, the MSM would never let us hear the end of it.

    **Of course, the Democrats would have to actually show up for a FOXNews-hosted debate before FOXNews would have the opportunity to sabotage them…

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    What Bambenek sees [or more likely, pretends to see] as definitive proof of CNN’s ‘left-wing bias,’ most of the rest of the world sees as a non-issue, a tempest in a teapot. If the candidates aren’t upset, why are you?

    For the record, I wish the Dems had participated in a debate on Fox News. And I would not have expected it to be ‘sabotaged,’ any more than I think CNN deliberately tried to set anyone up.

    Some of the questions were indeed inane, a separate issue. [I did rather enjoy the song at the beginning.]

    But it’s the inane answers we ought to be worried about, on both the Republican and Democratic side.

    But why should anyone be afraid of an awkward or difficult question? Should candidates only be thrown softballs, and only be questioned by committed voters from their own party? What a non-story this is.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    I frankly don’t believe that CNN “set up” the debate either. My concern above is simply that the screeening process could have garnered “better” questions, not easier “soft ball” questions. The Dems probably should assent to a Fox debate if for no other reason than to dispel any notion that they “fear” doing so. If Fox ambushed the Dems in such a debate with plants or plainly unfair questions, they would also be brought to task for it.

    B-tone

  • Baronius

    OK, guys, what do you think would be a good debate format?

    I’ll admit I haven’t seen much of any of them. There’ve been a few single-issue debates. There could also be multi-day debates, with three or four candidates per event. My thinking is, you can’t get 10 people to give detailed answers about everything in two hours. So let’s admit that there are too many candidates to manage in a traditional debate format.

    Let’s spice it up a bit more. Let’s have Dodd, Obama, Huckabee, and Giuliani debate foreign policy. Or dare I say it, how about a debate without any low-polling candidates? When did it become illegal to invite only the big dogs?

    We could also try pre-submitted questions. Almost none of the president’s job requires spontaneity. Make it a take-home test. “In one week, you’ll have to speak for twenty minutes each on Social Security solvency, immigration reform, and health care. Good luck.”

    So since we’re all smart here, what changes in debate format would you like to see?

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    How about something like the old manner in which figure skating competitions were set up, first with compulsories, short program and long program?

    Start with a set # of compulsory questions they all must answer in, say 1 minute. Then choose 3 or 4 topics from a list of several with 2 to 3 minutes devoted to answering each. Maybe they could pick the questions out of a hat – pot luck as it were. Last, a longer answer, say around 5 to 7 minutes of a single topic of the candidate’s choosing.

    This wouldn’t be a debate per se, but it would give each candidate an opportunity to respond to a fairly broad spectrum of questions while emphasizing those issues most important to them and/or for which they are most prepared.

    It’s doubtful that this would work with all of the current candidates. That could take hours. Who would watch any political program for much more than 60 to 90 minutes? As you suggest, it could just be amongst the front runners – 3 or 4 of them at most. It would probably be necessary to vote all of the others off the island or make them successfully down lamprey guts and boil squeezin’s to qualify.

    B-tone

  • Baronius

    B, without getting too vulgar, can you imagine something the candidates wouldn’t eat in pursuit of the presidency?

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Baronius,

    There is always the question: Do we really want anyone to be our president who actually wants the job? I can’t imagine wanting it. All politics aside, anyone who seriously aspires to the presidency in this and most other countries must have a masochistic vein in their psyches. Of course in order for someone to want to lead some of the more unstable countries of the world, they must also have a death wish down in the bowels of their souls.

    The first question I posed harkens back to Groucho Marx saying that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would accept him as a member.

    Well, it’s a nutjob world we live in. It obviously takes all kinds to keep it mindlessly whirring along through space.

    B-tone

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    can you imagine something the candidates wouldn’t eat in pursuit of the presidency?

    Their words.

  • Baronius

    Doc – heh.