If you didn’t watch the last GOP presidential debate on the CNBC cable channel, lucky you.
It was bad.
It gave journalism a bad name, and the GOP candidates are rightfully complaining, and want changes in debate rules.
Basically, the complaints center on the questions asked by the CNBC panel. Now, this channel specializes in business and economic news, not politics and it was obvious panel members were not familiar with things they should have known. There were questions asking one candidate to assess the “morals” of another! Ho, boy.
Of course, the candidates complained about “gotcha” questions. Well, one man’s gotcha is another man’s legit news story...so count me out here..although a few of the questions here bordered on truly irrelevant, and at times even irreverent.
At one point, I loved it, Gov. Christie objected..."We’re talking about fantasy football? Come on?” Yup, while immigration and tax policy were ignored.
Debates are important and different ground rules are to be expected...but there is a minimum level of competency required of sponsors and panelists…a level not found in the CNBC debate.
That said, let me object to several recent Kentucky debates, where one candidate for governor, Independent Drew Curtis was excluded. Wrong. That is NOT the function of sponsors or journalists. The state sets the requirements, by law. If they are faulty, change the law. (Sponsors used polls to determine who would be in..flying in the face of 3 recent major polls in Canada, England, and elsewhere that were totally wrong…here one point would have made the difference whether Mr. Curtis was admitted or not..and that one point was well within the margin of error of all the polls used.)
At the same time, I have to be sympathetic to sponsors who blanche at candidates like the late Fifi Rockefeller or Jerome Hamlin...who entered the race for governor for the most spurious of reasons...and to the Toledo TV station who, last week, did an interview with a legal candidate for mayor...whose answers indicated she was certifiable, and ended by talking in tongues.
Somewhere between CNBC and Drew Curtis there is a happy medium. We journalists need to seek it…NOW...and not wait til the next election shows up OUR problems..or by abdicating our responsibilities, we let the candidates take over.
I'm just sayin'...