PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES FOR SHOW ONLY
After watching Bill Moyers’ NOW program last night on PBS TV, I will probably forego the presidential debates. Moyers interviewed George Farah, the author of No Debate, who revealed all the secret agreements between the candidates not to ask each other questions, to pick the journalists and moderators, to screen the questions at the “town hall” type debates and not allow any followup questions (after a a young black woman asked during the GWBush, Perot, Clinton debate asked “how has the economic downturn affected your personal life and how will that make you better able to understand what American families are going through?” and he blubbered through without answering).
The program also pointed out that while the League of Women voters originally sponsored the presidential debates, they bowed out at a press conference in 1980s as the process became more corrupt. There is also a scene where Barbara Walters, a moderator at one debate, disgustedly announces that “these are the only three journalists the candidates could agree on to question them.” Now, the “Committee on Presidential Debates” while sounding official, is totally corporate sponsored (do visit http://www.pbs.org/now/ to get all the details) and guarantees that no real “debate” which is by definition confrontative and face to face, will take place. Important issues aren’t raised, third party candidates are excluded, and democracy is undermined once more.
Moyers showed an amazing edited clip of the “debate” between Al Gore and Dubya Bush where they said agreed with each other nearly ten times, and Bush even refers to the event as a “love fest”! It was also amazing to see Bush turn to Jim Leherer, who moderated, when Gore “broke the rules” by asking Bush a direct question. Bush was like a kid turning to the teacher who then told Gore, “you’re not allowed to do that,” so Bush smirked and sat silent.
I wish the entire country could have seen that program and I urge you to both get Farah’s book, No Debate and check out any repeats of the program (usually on at 1 in the morning, but set the recorder). For Bay Area people, NOW is on KQED, Channel 9 at 10 p.m. on Fridays.
This is my first of three today. It’s Saturday, and I’m on a roll.