Although at one point I had hopes of actually attending last night's presidential debate in person, those plans fell apart and it turned out to be a struggle to even hear it on the radio. I'm on vacation in Maine with my kids and our house has no television. Plus, for reasons I still don't quite understand, FairPoint is apparently incapable of getting our DSL working. My last resort was to sit in our rented car in the middle of the dark woods and listen to the debate on the XM satellite radio rebroadcast of the CNN audio feed.
Hearing, rather than seeing the debate, while sitting with my college-age daughter and with her younger sister in the backseat playing video games, may have given me a somewhat different perspective on the outcome and the effectiveness of the candidates who were in attendance. My experience may have been akin to those who heard the Kennedy-Nixon debate on radio rather than watching it on TV. I was safely isolated from the "pretty" factor which some of the candidates have going for them, and had to focus on what they actually said.
The first and most obvious thing about the debate for me was the absence of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Despite meeting the qualifications which CNN had laid out for inclusion in the debate, Johnson was not invited for reasons which remain obscure. CNN chose to selectively interpret their own criteria in order to exclude him and stuck by their position in the face of a massive call-in and email campaign, substantial negative coverage in other media as well as protestors on the scene.
Even CNN knows they aren't fooling anyone about their deliberate exclusion of Johnson and they may still be trying to explain it by the time the next debate rolls around. The upside for Johnson supporters is that this gross example of media bias seems to have really lit a fire under Johnson and his rhetoric is taking on a harder edge and he seems to be setting aside his laid-back style for a much more aggressive campaign style. It's going to get harder for them to continue to ignore him.