I was appalled, although not surprised, to read the just announced list of moderators for the forthcoming presidential debates: Jim Lehrer of PBS, Candy Crowley of CNN, Bob Schieffer of CBS, and Martha Raddatz of ABC (VP debate).
All liberals from liberal news organizations. Not even a token representative from Fox or the Wall Street Journal – not in the moderator seat anyway.
Don’t we live in a democracy? Or is this Syria or Egypt where its new Islamist president just wrested power from the military?
I thought back to the primary campaign when Newt Gingrich proposed Lincoln-Douglas style debates sans moderators. It was a good idea then and a good idea now.
Of the four candidates currently, the one who would triumph in a Lincoln-Douglas format is Paul Ryan, who is by far the most articulate of the four, more articulate, I think, even than the loquacious Gingrich. But whatever the case, the chances of this more even-handed approach being adopted are virtually nil.
Despite their liberal backgrounds, the moderators will doubtless put on hats of impartiality. But they are only hats. You don’t have to be Marshall McLuhan to know that on television messages are conveyed in other ways than words. Merely by being there as moderators, these biased liberals become the arbiters of truth. A symbolic judgement is passed. The gatekeepers have the “true” opinions. They “protect” us from “extremist” thought.
I don’t have any idea why the tradition of allowing a biased media to run these events continues. It is a testament to the passivity of the Republican Party. We saw how it worked during the primary season. Now we are going to get a rerun during the main event, with more subtlety and ultimately more subversion.
But there is something we can do about it even at this late date: protest and protest loudly. In this manner, we highlight the bogus quality of the debates. Even if our candidates perform better than the opposition, continue the protest. They can talk about the economy. We can still protest the bias.
Demand the moderators be removed even if they are not. As Churchill told us, never, ever give up. Someone might even be listening. And that someone is the American people.