The Republican YouTube Debates

November 29, 2007, 8:58 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, Featured, MC-B  | 12 Comments

Last night I decided to watch the Republican presidential debates on CNN (powered by YouTube!). I was very unimpressed with the whole ordeal.

First of all, CNN decided that it would be appropriate to give certain audience members (12 men and 12 women, all undecided registered Republicans) the opportunity to push buttons on a keypad in order to rate their responses to the answers that the candidates gave. This is problematic to begin with; is there anything that brings out true leadership like treating our candidates like racehorses? However, aside from problems with their methodology, let’s imagine that you, personally, were responsible for getting a ticker line graph thing on the air to represent the way that these people were responding. Where on the screen would you put it? The bottom edge? In a corner, perhaps? Well, I’ve been unable to find any screen shots as of yet, but CNN decided to put a continuously-updating line graph smack in the middle of the screen, over the faces of the candidates as they were giving responses. It was extremely distracting and generally told us nothing about the way that candidates were answering. The whole idea smacked of excessive populism.

Questions were uninspired and generally hand-selected in order to encourage sniping but no real policy comparisons. No questions were asked about healthcare or the environment, but CNN did find time for one question, already following two other questions about gun control, about the candidates’ personal gun collections. (Incidentally, this question elicited one story about military service, two about a candidate’s family, and one fairly curt response). I suppose I can’t fault the questioner, though: with this information about how many guns the candidates own, I now feel completely ready to vote.

The cuts to commercial were also very unprofessional. Local stations were afforded some commercial time, so sometimes during a candidate’s response, we were abruptly cut to the local Time Warner Cable’s ad for digital phone service. Sometimes, we would even cut from the candidate answering a question to “rap with” the 24 men and women who were pushing the response buttons in an isolated room somewhere else in the building.

Few people are going to watch these debates at all, but probably even fewer are going to go online to watch them in their entirety. CNN had a chance to showcase the differences between the candidates with illuminating questions, but I believe they generally failed to do that. Although, after the debates I suppose I could be coerced to vote for Mitt Romney after seeing online that he said (with respect to his family) “like most Americans we love our sports teams and we hate the Yankees.”

Or maybe I’ll vote for Ron Paul in protest.

Just kidding.


12 Comments to “The Republican YouTube Debates”

  1. Brian on November 29th, 2007 1:44 pm

    Watching CNN on satellite (Dish Network) last night, I didn’t have any of the negative impressions that you had. All of the commercial breaks were professionally introduced by Anderson Cooper and preceded by a pre-submitted video clip from one of the campaigns. I did not even hear about or from the 12 men and 12 women or see the response graphs covering the faces of the candidates until 10:15 PM or later after the debate had concluded and “Anderson Cooper 360” showed a few selected responses from the group and interviewed a few (who gave admittedly odd answers like one women who said “I think that I might vote for John Edwards now”). It seems like it is Time Warner with whom you should be taking issue for the presentation of the evening, and not CNN.

  2. MC-B on November 29th, 2007 1:49 pm

    Quite possible. Of course, all the professionally introduced breaks were also aired up here with the YouTube-style ads appearing beforehand. I thought about writing something to Time Warner as well, because I thought that they were probably responsible for the breaks. However, when they cut to the panel, the style was definitely CNN’s and I feel that they were somewhat responsible for providing local stations with the option to cut directly from candidates to the other room.

    In any case, I still found the questions generally uninspired. What did you think?

  3. David on November 29th, 2007 4:02 pm

    I watched some of it and was not impressed either. The graphs covering the screen and obscuring everything was just bizarre, and the woman claiming she would probably vote for Edwards certainly left me wondetring what criteria was used to determine that they were Republicans. At least there was no snowman to ask questions.

  4. David on November 29th, 2007 4:04 pm

    On another note Mike, did you see where China refused our ships entry to Hong Kong on Thanksgiving Day?

  5. Brian on November 29th, 2007 10:53 pm

    I agree that some of the questions were poorly chosen by CNN and that they didn’t cover all the issues. Out of a pool of 5000 possible questions, I would have thought that they could have selected some better questions.

  6. David on November 30th, 2007 11:55 am

    Did you see on the news yesterday how many of those people who asked the questions had a connection to Democratic candidates?

  7. MC-B on November 30th, 2007 1:19 pm

    My anti spam word is a color rather often. I wonder what’s going on there.

    Did you see where the warships were allowed into port mere hours after being turned away?

    I thought the Edwards woman was odd too.. clearly nothing in the debate really encouraged her to vote for Edwards. I wonder when she made her decision?

  8. David on November 30th, 2007 2:50 pm

    We delivering an official protest today to the Chinese embassy. The dang little enemies.

  9. MC-B on November 30th, 2007 2:55 pm

    They’re no more our enemy than anyone who’s not currently an ally. I’m sure if someone who actually posed a threat to us asked if they could temporarily dock their warships along our coasts, we’d be suspicious too.

    I wish comments on the China post worked better.

  10. David on November 30th, 2007 3:00 pm

    No one can vote so we don’t even know how the clash went. I’m sure it would be in favor of China as a friend though, blind innocents being led down the dark path by the sly plots of the Chinese government.

  11. MC-B on November 30th, 2007 9:15 pm

    Doubt it. I believe I am alone in my stance among Bweinh!tributors.

  12. Steve on December 2nd, 2007 5:14 am

    I”m mostly neutral, and when I’ve tried to vote, it’s been on MC-B’s side in the interest of balance.

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