Opinion: GOP Debate - The Newest Reality TV Show from CNN

Category: Politics / Jun 14, 2011 12:34PM EDT
Last night’s CNN-hosted Republican primary debate marked a new era in televised presidential debates…and a new low point in media coverage on the issues. The CNN format was a carefully orchestrated commercial advertising vehicle for CNN that was a cross between bad reality TV and televised twitter. The promotions weaved into the debate format to direct viewers to the CNN website were excessive and gratuitous plugs to drive visits to the CNN website…essentially in-house product placement ads from which CNN derives significant commercial benefit, and the frequent commercial advertiser sponsor breaks should have been eliminated altogether. Commercial Advertising has no place in political debates. Particularly ironic was that the commercial sponsor was a US automaker. With images of Detroit CEO’s flying into Washington in their private jets to ask for a taxpayer bailout fresh in the minds of Americans, did anyone else feel like they were being forced to drink their own bath water? Media companies who are privileged-enough to host these debates should have the integrity to hold these events as sacred and let their reward be the gratitude and admiration of their peers and their viewers. I am all for capitalism, and it appears that CNN spared no expense to stage this event. CNN is in business to make money and that perfectly fine, but for two hours every four years, the networks should forego the commercial benefits of being involved in the political process in the name of patriotism and doing the right thing. Our political electoral process and our access to it have been seriously compromised and Americans should be very wary of the implications. In the end, it was more entertaining than informative, but it was also CNN’s cool-aide that we were all forced to drink… Candidates were limited to 30 seconds in their response to questions that have plagued this nation for generations and questions about the fate of our economic survival. CNN’s notion that the commercial viability of sound-byte journalism is an appropriate format to conduct what should have been a substantive discussion of critical issues facing this nation is bad enough…but using this valuable time to inquire about a candidate’s preference of soft drinks, style of pizza, or entertainment television choices was just plain offensive to the intelligence of this nation and underscores a fundamental flaw in such an arrangement. Sure it humanized the debate somewhat, but in the face of unprecedented numbers of American families losing their homes to foreclosure and an unemployment rate at 9.1%, not to mention the US involvement in three major global military conflicts where our young soldiers are giving their lives day-in and day-out the spectacle of this debate simply did not reflect the gravity of our challenges as a nation.