Thursday, October 25, 2012

An October glimpse of American spring? - Postscript

I call B.S. on America's mainstream media.

On Tuesday, CNN.com ran a story by Tom Cohen with the headline, "Campaign enters final stretch as Obama takes final debate."

Here's the opening:

"Three debates down. Two weeks of campaigning to go.

President Barack Obama put Republican challenger Mitt Romney on the defensive on foreign policy in the final presidential debate Monday night, with analysts and an immediate poll giving Obama the victory."

That is B.S.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post's coverage of Monday night's Obama-Romney debate included a piece by Dan Balz and David Nakamura, with this headline: "Obama keeps Romney on his heels in last debate."

The Balz/Nakamura story includes this paragraph:

"The final debate concluded a gripping series of encounters between the two candidates that shook up the campaign as dramatically as any recent series of debates. Romney used the first debate to greatest advantage with an aggressive performance that contrasted to a lackluster evening for the president. Obama rebounded in the second debate, which was marked by sharp and testy exchanges between the two candidates, but not so much as to reverse the gains Romney had made."

That, too, is B.S.

The New York Times' Tuesday editorial, headlined "The final debate," opened thusly:

"Mitt Romney has nothing really coherent or substantive to say about domestic policy, but at least he can sound energetic and confident about it. On foreign policy, the subject of Monday night’s final presidential debate, he had little coherent to say and often sounded completely lost. That’s because he has no original ideas of substance on most world issues, including Syria, Iran and Afghanistan."

B.S., B.S., B.S.

These stories are all B.S. for one simple reason: Monday night's debate was not the last debate. It was not the final debate. More explicitly, it was not the final debate between presidential candidates. On Tuesday night, 24 hours after the debate that mainstream media called "last" and "final," there was another presidential debate, moderated by Larry King and featuring, not two, but FOUR presidential candidates: Rocky Anderson (Justice Party), Virgil Goode Jr. (Constitutional Party), Gov. Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), and Jill Stein (Green Party).

Tuesday night's debate was sponsored by Free and Equal Elections, a nonprofit whose stated mission is "to reform federal, state and local elections, making it easier for candidates to get on ballots and ensure all ballot qualified candidates are included in various forums and debates."

Monday night's debate was sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonprofit formed by the Republican and Democrat parties.

I won't rehash what I've already written about the history of presidential debates, and the CPD's exclusion of third-party candidates. The point of this post is to note the degree to which the press has cooperated with them in that exclusion, with the result being B.S.

On a purely journalistic level, describing Monday night's meeting between Messrs. Obama and Romney as the last or final presidential debate when there was a presidential debate happening Tuesday night, is inexcusably sloppy.

Now get this: after Tuesday night's debate, Free and Equal Elections asked for a vote on who should participate in a SECOND debate. The top two candidates will square off next Tuesday, October 30, at 9 pm Eastern, in Washington DC.

Don't expect to view that debate, or to learn about it, by way of media who have already said that Monday's debate was the "last" or "final" one. But you can prepare to view it bookmarking Free and Equal.

Meanwhile, here is what you missed Tuesday night. Please notice that not only does this debate feature candidates you may not have heard of - it also includes questions, from everyday people, that journalists seem afraid to ask. (I will spare you a whole essay about questions that are not being asked in the CPD debates.)

Do you think these candidates (whether you agree with them or not) deserve to be heard? Do the questions here deserve to be asked?

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