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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Monday, October 10, 2016
How The MODERATORS HIJACKED The Second Debate
Socio-political commentary ... Kyle Smith.
Last night was a vivid, real-time illustration of how the media think of the American people: “We’re really interested in how you think! So, please, come in, sit down and . . . let the professionals ask the questions.”
Man of the people Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, and Martha Raddatz, who had President Obama as a guest at her wedding, must have panicked when ordinary Americans invited to what was billed as a Town Hall debate in St. Louis didn’t ask the questions they were supposed to ask.
Bizarrely, the people were interested in substantive policy questions rather than in doing what the moderators wanted them to do, which was to make like Tom Cruise grilling Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men.”
Even when the people asked character-related questions, they asked them politely (“Do you feel you’re models appropriate and positive for today’s youth?” was the first question) instead of in the antagonistic way that journalists do, which by coincidence also wins journalists lots of attention. That wasn’t good enough for Cooper, the CNN anchor who hijacked the debate to cross-examined Trump about lewd comments he made 11 years ago. Trump did what everyone knew he would do — apologized, tried to minimize the remarks as “locker room talk” and then pivoted to Hillary Clinton’s long career attacking women who had accurately accused her husband of grotesque sexual behavior.
After all this, what did Cooper do? He asked almost the same question again.
So it went as the night wore on: For long periods of time the invited voters had as much influence on events as wallpaper. The moderators went after the candidates, mostly but not exclusively aiming their questions at Trump, repeatedly interrupting him and telling him his time was up.
Raddatz even argued with Trump after the Republican nominee made the not-crazy point that it was counter-productive for the US to announce in advance that it was planning an assault on ISIS-held Mosul, Iraq, Raddatz started defending the decision, as though she were an Obama Administration spokesman instead of merely friends.
Voters can be forgiven if they’re wondering why journalists keep mistaking themselves for the star of every show, even one that was designed to give the people a voice.