Friday, September 02, 2016

Debate Moderators or Narcissists

Debate-Season is nigh and there’s been much back-and-forth among the candidates and the news-people, though news per se is out the window now as commentators, sometimes masquerading as reporters, seem to be stealing the media.  This is especially true of the cable networks, which have an advantage over the long-established biggies since they are 24/7/7.  

The crux of the problem lies with the choosing of moderators, an especially thorny problem since according to the polls the public believes neither of the candidates nor the media is honest.  In the Activist Post on 19 April 2016, writer Joe Jankowski, quoting the Associated Press, asserted that only 6% of the citizens trust the media, so whoever might apply from that venue is subject to suspicion.  

According to CNN on 31 August, Clinton and Trump have, respectively, unfavorability ratings of 59% and 60%, meaning that a large majority of voters equally don’t trust either one to occupy the presidency.  Add that to the unfavorability rating of 94% for the media and what’s a voter to do?  

The candidates constantly make speeches the people don’t believe and the media constantly give reports of them that the people don’t believe, essentially because they believe the media have agendas and are more interested in somehow “fixing” the election than honestly describing the respective campaigns.  

The debates might actually be worth watching, if only to see how the candidates behave themselves and, of course, whether or not they seem knowledgeable about the many issues and problems of the day, both domestically and internationally.  Currently, both Clinton and Trump seem more interested in mutual character-assassination than anything else, which makes one wonder if they have little to offer otherwise.  

No debate-moderator should be a member of the media this time.  It has been only too graphic lately to see how the media try to campaign rather than be objectively seeking the truth.  Think Fox’s Meghan Kelly in the first Republican dust-up last year attacking Trump about women, virtually gnashing her teeth and being just short of hysteria on the non-subject.  

Or think of “powder-puffing” it with respect to Clinton and NBC, ABC, and CBS.  Newsies are attention-crazy and will argue with candidates or even help them along sometimes, depending on the candidate and circumstances.  Think Martha Raddatz helping a smirking Joe Biden in the veep debate in 2012 or Candy Crowley torpedoing Romney.  

And then, of course, there’s Dan Rather (CBS at the time), who made up an elaborate humongous lie (remember the “fatal” typewriter) about George Bush in an effort to deny him the presidency.  This caused some firings (even Rather, eventually) at CBS.  Rather also tried to sabotage GHW Bush years before, advertising his intent to bring him down on his evening news program, only to make a buffoon of himself.  

Media representatives are totally unacceptable as moderators. Remember Chris Matthews (MSNBC) pacing back and forth like a drill sergeant and firing away at the wannabes, his leg probably tingling at his own verbosity.  There are exceptions but most TV folks seem more interested in furthering their careers by one-upping the candidates and thus proving superior intellect.  

People who might actually be objective—former judges, for instance—would be much better possibilities as moderators.  Whereas they would command a certain respect from both public and candidates, the news-group and the candidates currently hold each other in mutual contempt.  They distrust each other to an even greater extent than the public distrusts them both.  

The loser in the current debate-format is the viewer/listener.  The moderators, besides being biased, are unable to demand a modicum of decorum, with the candidates arguing among themselves and with the moderators—one huge shouting match at times—and time limits are ignored by all parties.   

There has to be a better way.  

And so it goes.
Jim Clark


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