Several months ago I was part of an effort to save the GOP YouTube debate. Many of the candidates were balking at the idea of taking questions from a talking snowman, but many of us in the online community believed that if the GOP did not engage in such forums we (conservatives) would fall even farther behind in the use of technology in politics. I am very glad the GOP candidates participated in the debate, but am disappointed (but not surprised) at the way CNN chose the questions and neglected to adequately vet or disclose information about the questioners. I agree with Jay Tea's excellent earlier post, especially in the point he makes about what the consequences should be. (Read his post here.) Save the Debate has issued the following statement on CNN's performance:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, November 29, 2007 Save the Debate Coalition Statement on CNN's Flawed Editorial Process "The Save the Debate coalition would like to thank the Republican candidates for participating in the YouTube debate, which reached an estimated 4.5 million Americans, a record for this primary cycle. We are hopeful that the candidates will consider future opportunities to use technology to reach new participants in the political process. "Further, we applaud the YouTube community for the quality of the questions submitted that sparked informative and substantive exchanges among the Republican candidates. With nearly 5,000 YouTube user-submitted questions -- 2,000 more than for the Democratic debate -- Americans are increasingly taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. "Unfortunately, CNN's flawed editorial process in choosing the questions asked of the candidates marred an otherwise lively debate and betrayed the trust of the Republican candidates and the YouTube user community. In the most glaring example, a questioner affiliated with the Hillary Clinton campaign was given a soapbox to berate the Republican candidates at the debate -- when even a cursory web search of the individual would have revealed his clear conflict of interest. "A YouTube debate should strive to minimize the media filter rather than highlight it. Instead the selection of questions for the Republican CNN/YouTube debate highlighted CNN's selection bias. "We strongly encourage YouTube and other new media platforms to refrain from working with CNN on future debates." The Save The Debate Coalition was founded earlier this year to help encourage Republican candidates to participate in the YouTube CNN Debate. Its co-founders include Patrick Ruffini of PatrickRuffini.com and Townhall.com, David All of TechRepublican.com, Soren Dayton of Redstate.com and EyeOn08.com, and Robert Bluey of RobertBluey.com and Redstate.com. For more information, visit www.savethedebate.com.
One final thought on this whole affair...Isn't it funny that Democrats whined and moaned and cried like little babies over the thought of facing Brit Hume in a Fox News debate? They talked about how Fox was biased and not legitimate enough to rate a presidential debate and they refused to participate in a debate on the channel. Meanwhile, Republican candidates appear on the network that gave us Eason Jordan's coverup of Saddam's atrocities, Tailwind and that horrible video of our troops being gunned down by snipers in Iraq. Here's the thing -- Republicans are used to getting crummy questions in debates and unfair treatment from journalists. Democrats get a tough question and think that is unfair treatment. If only they could walk a mile in George Bush's shoes, or in Dick Cheney's or pretty much any Republican politician's, then they would know what unfair treatment is. Or they could just look at the list of Democrat activists whose questions were chosen for the YouTube debate.