Friday, November 16, 2007

The Media Mess

Watching the debate last night, I was reminded how much I hate the media. Wolf (the woof) Blitzer (blather) did his best Tim Russert impersonation by asking questions designed to provoke fights based on "gotcha" non-issues (i.e. drivers licenses for illegal immigrants) in a blatant attempt to advance the republican agenda. One of the worst examples:

Later, when members of the audience got a chance to ask question, we saw this gem:

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: LaShannon Spencer, please stand up for a moment. What is your question?

LASHANNON SPENCER: We constantly hear health care questions and questions pertaining to the war. But we don’t hear questions pertaining to the Supreme Court justice or education. (Applause.) My question is, if you are elected president, what qualities must the appointee possess?

MS. MALVEAUX: I’d like to get to Senator Dodd, if you would. And in answering that question, also tell us whether or not you would require your nominees to support abortion rights.

Got that? A smart voter asked a smart question. As someone who cares a lot about the Supreme Court, I was genuinely curious to hear the candidates’ responses. But CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux decided the voter’s question wasn’t quite good enough, so she decided to “fix” it, twisting it into a more conventional question about litmus tests.

After Dodd answered the question, Blitzer added insult to injury: “All right, let’s go through the whole panel. I want everybody to weigh in. This is an important question that was raised. I’ll start with Senator Biden. Would you insist that any nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court supported abortion rights for women?”

In other words, according to Blitzer, the “important question that was raised” wasn’t the one from the undecided voter, it was the one from Suzanne Malveaux who changed the important question from the undecided voter.

The question from the audience was thoughtful: "what qualities..." is a real question that should be answered with substance. By turning the question into one on abortion, Blitzer moved it onto a republican talking point. Don't get me wrong, I think abortion rights are important. But a supreme court nominee should have other "qualities".

A truth: Whoever becomes the Democratic nominee will have to defeat two opponents, the Republican AND the media.

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