The YouTube debate was a silly, and at times absurd exercise in giving air time to many idiots separated by an occasional responsible speaker, and the question selection by CNN demonstrated a huge left-wing bias which will inevitably appear in any subsequent YouTube debate organized by the MSM which is overwhelmingly staffed by the left.
When journalists ask questions, they have to at least try to balance the questions (unless it is Chris Matthews). Asking really dumb, offensive, or inappropriate questions usually doesn’t happen as a result.
But as we saw with the “insufficiently black” question, the CNN team used the device of the third party video to inject a question that would have embarrassed any anchor posing it.
If the GOP candidates agree to this format, expect a series of cheap shots about all of the top tier candidates. Patrick worries that the Republicans will appear behind the times if they take a pass. Perhaps, but if that means skipping a no win set-up where MSM agenda journalists work for weeks to put a video shiv into one or more of the Big Three, I am for it. The second tier folks will no doubt show up hoping for a Hail mary moment, but Giuliani, Romney and Thompson ought to say no thanks.
To illustrate,take a look at this story –a bit of agenda journalism that Jonathan Martin at Politico.com told me on air today is built on a story that has been floating around for months. Imagine some YouTube video asking Rudy why he’s defending a suspected pedophile. No MSMer would dare ask such a loaded question, but imagine what the gang at CNN would do. They covered for the Dems with a series of overwhelmingly left-biased questions at the first YouTube debate, with a very few tough, serious questions thrown in. That dynamic would change completely in a GOP YouTube debate –they or their counterparts at a different network will be gunning for the Republicans, and the question set will be designed to embarrass or ridicule.
Go to all the networks and talk to all the journalists, yes. It was cowardly for the Dems to refuse to debate on Fox with folks like Brit Hume and Chris Wallace asking the questions. It was a good move to let Chris Matthews moderate the first debate, and also for the device of read questions to be introduced there (especially since the Politico team was far more interested in serious questions than CNN was.)
But skip the set-ups. Not only is it ridiculously bad politics, the format diminishes the importance of the presidency, at least as it was managed by CNN.