I watched the entire Democratic debate last night and came away more annoyed with Wolf Blitzer than with any of the candidates. His arrogant, yet sanctimonious manner was over the top. For example, he kept demanding a choice between “Human rights or national security” in Pakistan, as though everybody knows that cracking down on Musharrif will endanger national security there, when in fact the people Musharrif is cracking down on are in no way the Taliban or Al Qeada, instead they are middle class people, while the tribes run free in the north, barely touched by the Pakistan army. I think Obama may have explained this the best, but most candidates had to waste time warding off Wolf’s simplistic question by trying to clarify the situation in various ways while he kept demanding an either-or answer.
Eric Alterman is going to do a Nation column next week on the debate but here’s his response to it today:
I’m going to do my Nation column this week about last night’s debate, but one thing I found particularly offensive, aside from the atrocious questioning, was, from the standpoint of sitting in the audience, the way CNN producers purposely ginned up the crowd to cheer over and over, as if they were pom-pommed cheerleaders at a high school pep rally. This is a ridiculously immature manner in which to conduct an alleged debate on the nation’s future, but it also interfered with the debate itself, as a bunch of rowdies in the crowd felt empowered to shout over the candidates’ answers. Overall, it was an abysmal performance, but I’ll have more ordered thoughts later in the week. I thought Joe Biden “won” the debate by the way, not that it matters… The loser was Wolf Blitzer.
I’ll be looking forward to Eric’s column next week.
UPDATE: Jamison Foser has a great analysis of the debate moderators lack of asking key questions here. Here’s the lead paragraph:
Through 17 debates this year, roughly 1,500 questions have been asked of the two parties’ presidential candidates. But only a small handful of questions have touched on the candidates’ views on executive power, the Constitution, torture, wiretapping, or other civil liberties concerns. (A description of those questions appears at the end of this column.)