Political Entertainment

July 2019

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.”
Edward R. Murrow

Last night’s CNN Democratic debate format was a failure.

The cable company that brought us non stop coverage of the Trump campaign in 2016 again showed their preference for dramatic conflict over issue clarification.

A couple of the candidates called out the debate format flaws.

At one point CNN moderator Dana Bash said to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, ” But just a point of clarification, you did raise your hand in the last debate…”
Buttigieg responded, “…these show of hands are exactly what is wrong with the way that this race is being covered.”

In response to a health care question from CNN moderator Jake Tapper, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said, “…Jake, your question is a Republican talking point,”. Well, nothing wrong with a moderator asking for a candidates reaction to the opposition party’s stance, is there? “And by the way,” said Sanders, “the health care industry will be advertising tonight on this program.” Oh.

The CNN time limits allowed only one-minute responses to questions about critical issues. Our problems do not lend themselves to bumper sticker solutions.

Demanding only yes or no answers does not clarify candidates positions on difficult questions.

The moderators constantly asked candidates to personally disagree with other candidates- questions designed to produce dramatic conflict rather than issue clarification.

Sound bite solutions are not likely to help solve life or death problems.

We knew that we could expect this kind of shallow political discussion by the way the Robert Mueller testimony was covered. Commenters lamented that Mueller may have offered great substance but had no show biz crackle.

Just as they did in 2016, CNN’s obligation seems to favor political entertainment over political analysis.

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