Their debate

My sum up from

I am sorely disappointed.

CNN selected too many obvious, dutiful, silly questions.

Anderson Cooper didn’t pace the debate; he tried to trip the runners.

The videos were too tiny to be given justice.

The candidates’ videos were just commercials.

There were far too few issues.

There were too many candidates.

The candidates gave us the same answers they always give.

I have no doubt — no doubt — that we, the people, would have done a better job picking the questions than CNN did.

I have no doubt that we would have heard far more substance without CNN and TV cameras in this. This should have been a debate held online: candidates answering questions directly without the need for CNN, Anderson Cooper, or their questions.

We end with the usual horserace blather of the TV commentators.

A terribly wasted opportunity, this was.

  • I agree, it could have certainly been done better , online and on TV. BUT for a first time out,
    I’m glad they gave it a shot and I hope debates always have this element. I want to believe there is no going back!

  • “This should have been a debate held online: candidates answering questions directly without the need for CNN, Anderson Cooper, or their questions.”

    And in the end, more people might have watched, too.YouTube, talking sno cones and all, looks more like the United States than CNN and the candidates do right now. It feels like there’s at least some sort of life over there… and I am sure there are a lot of serious, thoughtful questions up there people worked hard to write, record and post that sadly won’t get answered. But they’ll get seen.

  • You didnt really think they would pick good solid questions did you? I mean if it turns out that Mr. and Mrs. America can ask good solid questions and think for themselves without any assistance from the learned class of “fill-in-the-blank” j-school, then what do we have the big brave photogenic journalists for?

    Yes, of course, so what they do instead is make it look like everyone in America is a reject from the Jerry Springer show. That’s a much safer course of action…

  • My live coverage at the link.

    While I generally agree with most of the post, allowing YT visitors to select the videos would be a recipe for disaster, resulting in a series of Obama Girls and guys in masks.

    The better way to do this is to ask known quantities (such as bloggers who have reputations they would presumably want to protect) to rate the videos on their difficulty and triviality. Then, the most difficult videos would be selected.

    That way, those people could be held accountable for their selections. If they rank something incorrectly, they could hopefully face a credibility hit.

    At the very least, the list of most difficult videos could be compared with the ones that CNN selected.

    I could probably set something like this up for the GOP version of the debate, especially if someone can obtain funding to develop it.

  • I just uploaded a 1 second video saying, “CNN’s choice of questions for the debate really sucked”; it’s at my name’s link.

    I urge everyone who wishes that CNN had done a better job to view the video, rank it up, and tell their friends.

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  • the last line makes me think you expected more. but politicians are all the same.

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  • Didn’t want it to be… but sorta figured it was going to be a closed debate in an open debate’s clothing.

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  • Your comment was read on ABC’s early new this a.m., Jeff.

    And I got some good response to suggestion that the unprivileged need to have access to debates, perhaps town meetings, at

  • Eric Gauvin

    Americans have suddenly become very knowledgeable about politics and world affairs?

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  • Gordon Lane

    I’m not sure I see the whole benefit of the Internet here. Thirty percent of Americans were left out of the debate from the start, with 45 percent of low-income Americans being left out specifically. ( YouTube is popular, but what subsets of Internet users have no knowledge of it (or had no knowledge, such as the pastor with the question about religion and gay marriage), or have no access to the tools to post a video?

    Sure, the landscape of access to politics showed evidence of change in the tools used last night. But 2.0 doesn’t really mean equality. Not yet.

  • Rick

    CNN does TV, to sell cars, drugs, fast food etc. They don’t do politics much and they barely do news.

    I really REALLY wish the LWV (League of Women Voters) was still allowed to do debates. But the parties eventually learned LWV would not manage the message in the way the parties wanted, so democracy took another hit to the jaw.

    TV is the enabler of the spinmeisters. The internet allows some counter-spin but not enough people attend to internet sources as much as TV (TV is just so easy and ubiquitous). Don’t look for fairness and balance on *any* TV – TV is an electronic billboard, nothing more. And internet video is just not a viable alternative for the masses – nor do the powers in charge of the US economy want it to be. You may have to go to Japan, parts of Europe, or even (some day in the not too distant future) China for that.

  • chico haas

    A microphone in the debate hall. Questions on index cards read to candidates. Having someone submit a video on YouTube. All the same. You can geek over it but questions from the mob is hardly a new concept. (Mr. Lane’s cogent assessment of which mob notwithstanding.) Common to all is the old complaint as to how, and by whom, the questions are weeded out. What is new: by producing your own video question, you can make the question carry more weight, depending on your own imagination. Even so, it just draws attention to yourself. Great to have another tool for access to the usually inaccessible, though.

  • IMHO this whole crowdsourcing/wisdom of crowds jag is a distracting sideshow. The real problems of authenticity and credibility that are undermining the MSM are being ignored.

    Limbaugh logic – “it’s not working we need to scrap it”.

  • Guy Love

    Most debates are like watching a slow motion train wreck as the media types make sure their favorite candidate gets the softballs and the people they want to get rid of get the ambush “gotcha” moment. While the YouTube videos reduced this to some degree, the stage handlers at CNN still managed to make the candidates go through the motions. The CNN political team cherry picked the videos they wanted and staged their show. The candidates spouted their canned responses and there were very few moments where one gained insight into whether any of these people could run the country. It made for good entertainment, but had very little substance.

    One thing the videos did was make the follow on talking heads look even more biased as they all rushed to play king maker and spout who had won the debate. At least the public is trying to figure out who deserves to run the country vs. trying to close the deal six months before the first elections even take place. I guess it is why I despise the media so much on these things as they always try to reduce it down to some sort of screwed up popularity contest.

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  • What they should have done is:

    Exclude only that which cannot be aired on cable and of course those that either made no sense, were unintelligible, or had technical issues.

    Have every video assigned a number, and then a random number generator pick a question and then that question presented to the candidates. That would have been democratic (that and allow every candidate to respond).

    CNN basically picked the questions they would have already picked, but stated by You Tubers instead. Big deal! Big letdown. you could see the sigh of relief on the candidate’s faces once they realized this was more of the same! This was a ratings stunt by CNN. How glib they are to think Americans don’t really value democracy and this process!

  • As before, it’s a step in the right direction – but probably being approached from an over-cautious standpoint at present.

    Now if only we could get the local news networks to do similar…

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  • superf88

    I prefer good questions — pardon me if TV technology un-geneered for crappy slow US broadband, delivering smirky contents that mocks democracy, doesn’t make me want to wave the flag (or watch CNN).

    What I want to know: When will the MSM get past the medium, and to the message?

    The only revolutionary thing here is that finally it is admitted that reporters cannot be counted on to talk with non-reporters. Officially.

  • Last night one of the BBC world service presenters said that from his decades of interviewing politicians he has learned that the effort is a waste of time. And unlike the people in the US, the BBC crew really does ask tough questions, and then follow up when they get an evasive answer.

    I predicted in JJ’s announcement thread that this forum would produce nothing of substance. Politician’s main job when campaigning is to ensure they don’t turn anyone off. This leads to time-tested political pablum.

  • ExpertOpinions

    The real question is why is the media not held accountable to publish the real issues regarding the candidates? For instance, I was appalled after watching a couple movies recently called Zeitgeist & 9/11 revisited. There are so many facts out there that not one reporter has covered in the mainstream press. With the ability of a “public servant” to be above the law, and even appoint their own investigators, what is the point of even holding debates, voting, etc. There will not be any accountability or punishment for those that have no integrity to do anything except feed their own pockets anyway. If everyone checked out these movies, which are on YouTube for free, there might finally be someone who can stop these demagogues before they institute marshal law. – Out

  • Come on, Jeff.
    Obviously it could have been better, revolutionary.
    But it was a HUGE leap from what we had before.
    We cant expect a revolution everty other day.

  • Problem #1: too many candidates, not enough time to devote effectively to each one.

    Problem #2: a Media run by corporate sponsors too weak-kneed to do much more than spoonfeed pablum-level questions to candidates who represent vested interests.

    Problem #3: An American public generally too ignorant or indifferent to care a whole lot about the entire political process anyway…likely more interested in seeing who the next lineup of IDOL candidates are, or finding out who Kiefer’s going to blow away in the next season of 24… Bread and CIRCUSES, folks…

    Problem #4: Candidates primarily interested in politics instead of statesmanship, backed by assorted vested interests who are far less interested in the ISSUES and more interested in how the candidates of their choice will enhance their BOTTOM LINES in the coming term of office…and these are the people with some grip on REALITY… I no longer know if McCain is even on the same PLANET as the rest of us, anymore…

    …and by the time anyone’s figured out a way to actually DO something, all the ultra-rich will have flown to Switzerland and a quarter the U.S. will be underwater…

    Sorry…bit depressed today… and misplaced my rose-colored GLASSES…

  • Ramenth

    While were discussing outrageous hopes and dreams, I for one expected the YouTube Entries to allow us unparalleled advances in Space Flight, Deep Sea Exploration, and to solve world hunger.

    Because, and lets be honest here, that’s about as likely as what ya’ll were expecting. Perhaps you only look at small portions of the internet, I don’t know. But I can assure you this. Youtube and the web are not the panacea you make them out to be.

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  • RonP

    the questions were handpicked. most of them softballs. big deal – video vs. email vs. call-in. remember the revolution WILL NOT be televised.

    ps. i would watch if the next set of questions come from cartoon characters. Ren&Stimpy, Homer Simpson, Space Ghost, Cartman, Etc. – that would be revolutionary!

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  • Personally, I thought the questions were pretty good. TV debates are never all that great, because the candidates don’t actually debate. But withing the limitations of the format, this was one of the better debates because the questions were better than average.

    I’m just disappointed they didn’t include the Cyborg thing.

  • M. Smith (really)

    Jeff, Keith Olbermann picked this up, too.

  • I thought the whole experiment was very interesting. I love the idea of incorporating new media into the election process, and I think politicians are going to really going to embrace it in the coming election.

    My biggest issue is that I wish CNN had a better system for choosing which videos to use. I thought some of the questions were great, but there a few that just seemed too silly (the snowman, anyone?). I think CNN editors need to back away from the selection process, and find another way to pick questions (as long as it isn’t by “most viewed”).

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  • While, overall, I’m extremely pleased with the debates – I do think that CNN/YouTube made mistakes in selecting the lineup of chosen questions.

    Women make up 54 percent of the population, 55 percent of registered voters and 60 percent of the electorate.

    In all recent elections, women have outvoted men (in terms of both turnout rates and actual numbers) in every racial and ethnic group – African American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and white.

    So, when CNN/YouTube/Google selected only 24% of the questions as female questions – they created a tremendous credibility and gender gap with the majority of the electorate.

    Please read my recent blog entry –
    Almost 9 Million More Women – YouTube Blew It?
    for more thoughts on this subject.

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  • In principle there should be both. It is clear that the basis for discussion is to communicate, discuss, ideas to rescue people. I think as you say no was fulfilled

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