Rescue debates from the entertainment industry
We haven't watched many of the debates - we might tune in for a bit here or there, but for a lot of the reasons you give, we just don't feel like we get much out of them. Town halls and websites are much more informative.
That being said, we tuned in to CBS's mess. Watched about 10 or 15 minutes of it and turned it off. Sullivan was right, but it happened more often than just the time you quoted. I learned nothing, every candidate looked bad and it was, sadly, political discourse in the age of trump.
Another thing was the crowd. I'm not tuning in to hear the audience boo, hiss or scream and cheer. I want to know the candidates' positions and how the nominee is going to perform in debates against trump (assuming he actually debates). The crowd, the moderators and the candidates themselves were not what I want from, what should be, a serious undertaking.
Thanks for your commentary. I agree 100%. I’m also offended at how these debates are hyped by the breathless news anchors, the stupid countdown clock and the eternal blabbing about who “won.” It’s nonsense and does not truly give us perspective. It all feels phony and slimy. <sigh>
I just wanted to say, I've enjoyed following you on Twitter for quite some time, and I'm so glad I decided to follow your newsletter too. You always have intelligent insights (that I happen to agree with 😉), and I also love the inclusion of "just for fun" music at the end!
CBS turned it into a WWE Royal Rumble.
I agree with the criticisms leveled at the media for the 'ratings-first' approach to the debates. That said, I also place blame on the candidates. Skillful debaters pivot to issues that allow them to discuss issues they deem important. Coronavirus, foreign policy, the erosion of the rule of law, the cost of prescription drugs, global warming, and gun violence should have been raised in the first 10 minutes...if not by moderators than by candidates. Instead of fighting each other, candidates must show that they value the issues of most concern to voters by insisting that the moderators focus on the nightmares facing us today.
"(by Eric Boehlert, article)At one point, well into the second hour, front-runner Bernie Sanders and indefatigable challenger Pete Buttigieg indulged in a nonstop yelling match," noted the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan. "Not a word was intelligible for what felt like five interminable minutes, though it probably was more like 30 seconds." A lot of the debates this campaign year have been a wreck. And yes, it's the media's fault.
(BY Eric Boehlert, article)
In the name of reclaiming the debates let’s get rid of the audience. Get rid of the $1,700 tickets. Get rid of the rooting sections. Scrap all of it. Basically, rescue the debates from the entertainment industry, which is where they currently reside.
Thanks for this article but agree with a commenter below that you shouldn't offer it as tongue in cheek - it's true. Current debates do little to nothing to illuminate candidates' policy ideas, administrative competence, or leadership capabilities. The League of Women Voters still runs local and state debates across the nation - ours here in South Carolina are informative and worth coming to.
I loved it. Everybody telling everybody else what's up with little control. That's how you really find out what the candidates are all about. The details you can read about later.
Maybe the trick is to put them all in sound proof boxes (like in the $64,000 question). They don't hear each other, or the audience (do we really need one?), and substantive, relevant questions are asked. I kinda like that idea, otherwise I don't bother with them now!
I am sorry you said the call to LWV is "tongue in cheek." The League was started by Carrie Chapman Catt and has never given up on the importance of the VOTE. Yes the debates should be held by the non-partisan, historic, LWV.
As a member of the LWVGA, we work to engage candidates in debates, but most of the time one or more candidates will not agree to the rules that the League has. It is these very rules that make for a meaningful and informative experience for the voters.