Thursday, April 17, 2008

Charlie and George Go To A Debate ...

Just a little follow-up on the debate last evening ...

Charlie and George ...

Not quite in the same league, but, after the outrage (and disappointment) an equal amount of laughs could be had, as if the debate was presented as a corporate, white-collar version of "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle".

Which has me thinking; How did ABC miss it?

They were in Philadelphia ... They had two-hours to play with ... It would be only 1.6 miles (approximately 8-minutes) to travel from the National Constitution Center... If they didn't want to pack that time with commercials, they could have let the off-screen, voice-from-the-heavens, riff some more on the Constitution

To really cap off their tabloid, junk, "Gotcha" debate-producing/debate-moderation-strategy, they could have taken Barack Obama to Gino's Steaks and have him order a cheesesteak, using quick-cut close-ups, overhead shots, maybe even have a camera from the POV of the grill ... A little tune softly in the background, building up the drama, putting the pressure on Obama to order it the correct way (and in English) ...

Maybe cut to Hillary, or use a double-screen shot, so we can hear her tell the audience of the great cheesesteaks subs her grandfather used to make (including shooting the cow, with his second-amendment-granted-right-to-own-a-gun), and how it's a tradition and her grandfather was never bitter about making cheesesteaks subs ...Then a quick cut to Hillary eating a cheesesteak sub, washing it done with shots and beer ...

And then, George Stephanopolous will ask a question, given to him by Sean Hannity, or some other dittohead, righwingnut, if Obama likes the same cheese on his cheesesteaks that William Ayers likes ... Didn't he and William Ayers share a cheesesteak once, or both order and eat cheesesteaks at the same place?

Then, the MSM, and the Right Wing Freak Show, can start a whole new meme, about Obama, still being an elitist, but now trying fake working-class roots, of being a brown-bagging-lunch-carrying common man, question the veracity if he's ever eaten a cheesesteak, or that he likes to put French cheeses on it, maybe even a little arugla.

Hillary will jump on it too, saying that she has the experience to handle a cheesesteak, that she's dealt with, and eaten, all the cheesesteaks thrown her way for the past 16-years, and that, obviously, Obama isn't ready to handle a chessesteak ...

Hillary could get up at 3AM and make a perfect cheesesteak, Obama couldn't...

And, during the commercial breaks, ABC, instead of the Constitution, will have that off-screen, voice-from-the-heavens give the history of, and recipes to ... Cheesesteaks!
Hmmm ... I think I'll stop here ... Why give ABC a free gameplan ...

Okay, pretty absurd, but, in reality, not too far off the reservation on how the debate played out last evening (you can go to my bleary-eyed-written-post "Boy, And We Thought Russert and Williams Sucked") for more 411 on this fiasco.

And if you think this is harsh, or off-the-mark, the World Wide Web and Blogosphere is bursting with similar and comparable disgust.

As we noted last evening, it was a Leonard Pinth Garnell-type night, all the way.

Perhaps the best, the winner for title-and-post goes to Robert Elisberg, over on The Huffington Post, with his "What If ABC Held a Debate, but Forgot to Show Up?";
This was topflight journalism at its worst. This was ABC's old, flimsy history with threadbare sizzle packaged as news. It was a tabloid debate with tabloid questions. Matt Drudge come to life on a respectable stage. From what I subsequently discovered, they actually, eventually got around to real issues -- after over an hour. But watching it for a mere 45 minutes made me feel almost seedy. I wanted to shower to get the smarm off. I love news, I admire professional journalists, I cherish the Mainstream Media, even when they flounder, because it is the core of democracy. But this was embarrassing. This was pathetic. This was just a cheesy press conference with cheesy questions.

A tie, or by-a-hair, second, was Will Bunch, on his Atttytood blog, "An open letter to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanapoulos";
With your performance tonight -- your focus on issues that were at best trivial wastes of valuable airtime and at worst restatements of right-wing falsehoods, punctuated by inane "issue" questions that in no way resembled the real world concerns of American voters -- you disgraced my profession of journalism, and, by association, me and a lot of hard-working colleagues who do still try to ferret out the truth, rather than worry about who can give us the best deal on our capital gains taxes.

But I'm not ready to make nice. What I just watched was an outrage. As a journalist, you appeared to confirm all of the worst qualities that cause people to hold our profession in such low esteem, especially your obsession with cornering the candidates with lame "trick" questions and your complete lack of interest or concern about substance -- or about the American people, or the state of our nation. You embarrassed some good people who work at ABC News -- for example, the journalists who worked hard to break this story just last week -- and you embarrassed yourselves. The millions of people who watched the debate were embarrassed, too -- at the state of our political discourse, and what it has finally become, at long last.

And this morning, Tom Shales, television critic of the Washington Post, rings in with "In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC";
When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates -- or was he really patting himself on the back? -- for "what I think has been a fascinating debate." He's entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer.

Also making its way into the discussion this morning is the wistful longing of debates past.

Libby, over on Newhoggers, harks "It's time to bring back the League of Women Voters or some neutral entity, whose agenda has nothing to do with ratings and promoting their overpaid media stars, to run these events again" and Marty Kaplan, on The Huffington Post reaches for the same, begging "Would someone please get the networks out of the presidential debate business? ... But I do blame the candidates, the campaigns and the parties for being complicit with the corporate politainment circus. The first ten people in the phone book could do a better job of asking candidates questions that voters care about."

And, perhaps the best, head-slapping, suggestion, comes from Markos, on his Daily Kos;
"I honestly don't understand why Democrats haven't learned to ignore the bullshit substance-less questions and simply say, "Okay, that's a dumb question. Let's talk about something people care about, like the housing crisis."

Just bypass the idiotic questioners and talk about the things that the Democratic primary electorate actually want to talk about.

Trust me, they'll get brownie points, and the idiot questioners will look like idiots in the process."

Last nights' dredge should put a bullet in any more Democratic debates, since the primary is nearly over, so we get a respite, of sorts.

Just enough time, maybe, to unremember this fiasco, and to start dreading the General Election debates

More Links!

Barry Crimmins: The ABC/HUAC Democratic Inquisition

Think Progress - AUDIO: Hannity Feeds Stephanopoulos Debate Question On Weather Underground

Attaturk/Firedoglake: On reflection

Lynn Sweet: Obama's toughest grilling to date at Thursday debate. William Ayers becomes a factor

Steve Benen: Worst. Debate. Ever

Greg Mitchell - Clinton-Obama Debate: ABC Decides Top Issues Facing Americans Are Gaffes, Flag Pins and '60s Radicals

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