From a journalistic perspective, the last CNN GOP debate was an especially corrupted and corrupting process.
What do I mean? The best to date was the ABC debate moderated by Old School journalist, Charles Gibson. Evenhanded, tough, fare, no favorites—he and his colleague were there to get answers for the viewers, not to choose the frontrunners or make celebrity appearances. Which is what Anderson Vanderbilt Cooper is all about.
The less said about he and Jim VandeHei, the blogger cognoscente from “Politico,” and Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times—moderators all—the better.
There were four candidates present, not two. Tasked with the assignment, journalists with a modicum of integrity and intellectual curiosity would have made sure that by the end of the evening, viewers had a good idea of the positions all four held. Instead, Cooper and his colleagues zeroed in on Romney and McCain and remained there. On the few occasions Cooper and Company turned to them, Paul and Huckabee were granted very little time to respond—Paul even less than Huckabee. Moreover, because four contenders were present and two were ignored, the meta-message was that of contempt—and arrogance on the part of the moderators.
Rush Limbaugh has offered a coruscating critique of McCain as the anti-conservative, yet Huckabee was framed by Cooper as the main object of Limbaugh’s attack. This was a sort of Straw Man Argument. Huckabee is not the frontrunner. If Limbaugh’s renunciation of any candidate ought to have been brought up for the benefit of the voters, it is his root-and-branch rejection of McCain. But that bit of dreck, Cooper, wanted to spare his man McCain, who is lionized by liberals.
The debate has stuck in my mind as richly revealing of the workings of the media, content and process alike.
To be continued.
Update (February 3): Readers have pointed to other solid interviews conducted over the months with the candidates, such as at the dank corner of MTV cable, of all places. I would add the Google or Yahoo executive’s interview with Paul—and the others. Fine, informed, intelligent stuff. This demonstrates, once again, that if in search for genius, always look outside what I call the Media-Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, sycophants and parasites all.
This is also why you ought to never blindly follow the media’s constant abuse of Mitt Romney, clearly of a far superior mind and mien than the miserable, mummified McCain. I say this as a “Paulbearer.” But more about Romney—a tremendously accomplished man in his own right—latter. A run outdoors, eating, ironing, and book writing will keep us apart for the next few hours.