“How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?” Heck, no, that doesn't sell.
I can not emphasize how pathetic MSNBC commentors were in hosting the supposed Republican Debate yesterday. This is not just complaining by the Republican National Committee. Instead of finding out the candidates' positions on issues, they commentators sought ratings points with deliberately dumbed down and nearly meaningless questions.
American voters, I believe, wanted to hear questions about the economy, the unwillingness to tax the rich, the war in Syria, balancing the budget, alterative medical care. But no!
The debate started by asking candidates simply "what's your greatest weakness?"
John Harwood didn't ask questions, so much as editorialize to Donald Trump: "Mr. Trump, you've done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build a wall and make another country pay for it. Send 11 million people out of the country. Cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit. And make Americans better off because your greatness would replace the stupidity and incompetence of others. Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?"
Perhaps this is a comic book version of a debate. Each Presidential cycle, it seems, brings more ridiculousness and humiliation to televised debates, especially as the networks are seeking advertising revenue rather than a quality debate.
This is far different from the debates from 1960, in which Kennedy and Nixon debated their differences in political philosophy openly and honestly in response to questions, in a format roughly consistent with that used by scholarly debating societies. There wasn't really much concern about advertising revenues, although the major networks were interested in televising the debates.
Kennedy and Nixon debated in 1960 in a manner that was more Presidential and informative to voters, rather than the wild format that the media now uses to generate sound bites and "gotchas." This business of cross-examining each candidate with rapid fire accusations is ridiculous.
The debate transcript is found here: Debate Transcript, Washington Post . Amazingly, "Syria" is not mentioned a single time. "Global warming" was mentioned once. It was a pathetic performance, and more than one candidate complained about the poor quality of the questions.