Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Courts to MSNBC: Let Kucinich Debate -- UPDATED

Without getting into whether the courts should be telling media organizations how to conduct their business, this is a good thing. I thoroughly dislike the way networks try to play kingmaker by permitting and denying certain candidates the right to participate in televised debates. I understand that they can’t give a podium to every Tom, Dick and Jane but they should invite any candidate with a functional national organization.

Elections, particularly primary elections, are about finding the best candidate for the job. They are not about choosing between the two or three candidates with the best poll numbers. Networks sabotage the democratic system when they close off their debates. The people, not the media pollsters, should decide who is an who isn’t viable. A candidate with low poll numbers will never have a chance to climb higher if they are pushed out of the debates. And yet, the networks egotistically remove candidates from contention, denying voters the right to hear all views.

Kucinich, while hardly in the mainstream, is still a U.S. Congressman and has supporters across the nation. He deserves a spot in the debates just like the equally out-of-the-mainstream and low-polling Ron Paul deserves a spot in the Republican debates. MSNBC should be ashamed that this issue went to the courts.

UPDATE - January 16th. Yeah, nevermind. The Nevada Supreme Court has sided with MSNBC, ruling that the lower court's decision was a violation of the network's First Amendment rights. From a legal standpoint, that's the right ruling I think. But from a political standpoint, I still think Kucinich should be allowed to debate.

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2 Comments:

Blogger bucyrus said...

Yeah, I am of mixed minds on this, but ultimately I agree. Anyone who can make a good argument that they are semi-viable even as a contributor to debate deserves a seat.

Much as I am not much of a fan of Ron Paul, it was hard to defend his Fox exclusion when his numbers were similar to Guiliani's. You have to guess that Fox was carrying water for the GOP establishment there.

The problem, of course, is that these multi-candidate debates take the charade to a much higher level of unbearability. It's bad enough that no one answers the question they are asked, they just spew whatever canned answer is most closely related.

Then you have to add the volume of the extra voices talking over one another. I can't watch more than 2 minutes without my "Life's too short" alarm going off.

We need a better format. I think I'd rather have the "debates" conducted over time, with candidates allowed to videotape 2 or 3 minute statements on issues in response to questions, but done in a nondescript room without a flag, and with no music playing. You could show 5 3 minute statements, and the public or a limited audience of voters could grade the responses and each candidate would get to respond to the feedback they got. The audience would, get to express if a guy didn't really answer the question, was too vague, failed to account for important aspects of the issue. Basically, it would be like we were watching a focus group.

The way they do things now, it's as close to a total waste of time as it can get. Whether Dennis Kucinch is there or not.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Yeah, the debates aren't particularly useful for most voters. They're usually just a forum for candidates to rattle off lines from their stump speeches and try to appear likable. Real debates would be fun but no candidate would agree to that. But they do generate exposure and provide some contrast between candidates -- that's at least valuable to voters who know little about the candidates. I'd rather have the full range of ideas expressed in bite-size remarks than just two or three ideas expressed in longer, more rambling answers.

12:21 PM  

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