Some years ago, TV networks scaled way back on their live coverage of party conventions because, well, nothing much was happening at them beyond scripted and slickly produced promotional stuff. Having watched the past few presidential debates of both parties, I’m starting to wonder if the same thing might make sense for debates.
The Democratic debate in Nevada the other night was a case in point. Was it the least substantive debate of this campaign? Or maybe ever? The moderators, especially NBC’s Tim Russert, were asking some fairly direct and even hard-hitting questions, and time after time the candidates found ways sidestep them and parrot back the dozen or so words on their Coolest Words Ever Lists (TM) : health care, education, huge corporations, etc. And even they seemed bored by it.
Of course, it’s no wonder, really. It’s the easiest path, they get high-fives from their PR people backstage and they’re largely allowed to get away with it. So, moderators, here’s a respectful and handy four-word phrase to add to your note sheets.
“Please answer the question.”