We need better debates!

It seems like it is a hobby with Republicans: the incessant whining about how the media treats them unfairly.  Of course, when liberal bias is defined as a journalist not parroting Republican talking points, of course, there’s going to be bias.  Lately, the whining has been about how the debate moderators have been asking “gotcha” questions.

The Republicans seem to be testing a strategy of winning by whining. Certainly, voters are discontented and even angry. But do they want a leader who campaigns by kvetching?

While it is clear that the moderators have an agenda, the whining also allows the candidates to avoid talking  specifics about policies and agendas.  If the candidates had their way, they would have the moderators ask softball questions and allow them to spew their talking points.  By labeling tough questions as “gotcha” questions, they avoid the question.

The problem that we are seeing with the Republican debates and even the Democrat debate is that the moderators are taking sides.  Back when these debates were first started, it made sense to have journalists moderate debates.  Today, it does not make as much sense as the concept of journalist integrity is a thing of the past.  We now have liberal journalists and conservative journalists, neither of which are capable of being impartial.

The first thing that both parties need to do is to ditch the so-call impartial journalists and do one of two things: (a) find moderators that are truly impartial (preferably ones without a conflict of interest) or (b) find a way to negate the bias of the moderators.

Second, the format needs to change.  These debates should not be allowed to be a venue where the candidates can just give their talking points and avoid tough questions.  Debates should have two or more candidates actually debate a topic and to make them think.  Plus, these debates should strongly encourage the candidates to talk about specifics of their proposals.

Until the DNC and RNC clean up their debate formats, it is best to just view them as dog and pony shows.

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