Roger L. Simon

Who Cares What the Networks Think?

The already discredited television networks are sticking their biased noses in the debate plans:

Although the Bush and Kerry camps have meticulously crafted an agreement on the rules for this year’s presidential debates, the television networks broadcasting them refuse to go along with the plans.

Specifically, the networks object to provisions in the agreement that place limits on their cameras, including prohibitions on shots of one candidate while the other is answering questions.

The candidates are right here. The camera can be the nastiest and most distorting of editors. We’ve known that for almost a hundred years. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Russian director Alexander Dovzhenko broke the rules of continuity editing to show how emotions can be manipulated through image juxtaposition. Later, the French auteur theorists spoke of “le camera stylo” – the camera as pen. [Aren’t you going a little over the heads of these network execs? They don’t have the background of you bloggers.-ed. Sorry. Forgot.]

Anyway, my real point is that the debates should not be shown on the networks. They should be on CSPAN only where an attempt, at least, can be made for impartiality (with the camera, it’s difficult). Then all the networks could chime in afterwards to tell us unwashed what to think. This would also have the bonus effect of alerting many to CSPAN who were not already aware of it. It’s an American treasure.