Monday, September 29, 2008

An Open Letter to All Future Debate Moderators

Dear Presidential Debate Moderators (and all media in general),

In this topsy turvy world of infinite opinions and sources and studies, all easily available at the search of a google, and the click of a mouse, I have one simple request for you journalistic referees: Do your fucking job.

Far too often we see a news show report on a story, then bring on someone from each side of the debate (screamfest) and argue (yell incoherently at one another) over the best way to solve the problem (country careening wildly into the toilet). These two opposing views paint wildly different realities, citing their partisan research groups and providing the audience with wildly different numbers. The moderator then proceeds to thank both guests for appearing on the program and neglects to perform a moderators most basic function: deciphering facts from bullshit.

At the most recent debate, both candidates made exaggerations or distorted their own or their opponents record (The Washington Post 'Fact Checker' has McCain making 10 distortions to Obama's 4), and unfortunately for voting citizens and inquisitive people everywhere, Jim Lehrer never once stepped in to say, "I'm sorry, but that's just not true." Thankfully some news outlets will call the candidates on their crap after the fact, but this is not good enough.

Moderators know what questions they're going to ask, and have a fairly good idea of how candidates are going to respond:

Moderator: Dem Candidate, how do you feel about the environment?
Dem Candidate: I'm for it!
Moderator: Repub. Candidate, how do you feel about Roe v. Wade?
Repub. Candidate: Fuck it!

So, having a basic understanding of the ideological leanings of each side, and having read the reasonably detailed plans each candidate has laid out for the America he will govern, and knowing that your news outlet has literally millions upon millions of dollars to spend on this topic alone, and being a journalist and knowing exactly which research groups are right or left leaning or are strictly non-partisan, and knowing that most Americans have neither the time nor inclination to review claims after the fact, you Moderators, need to be calling bullshit on these pandering ass holes in real time. Period.

I understand the want of media outlets to appear non-partisan (even Fox News claims to be fair and balanced), but if you're going to be non-partisan, that means holding these ass holes to the truth. Remember those pesky things called facts? It's your job, Moderators, to both know and use them, in real time, in front of the candidates.

Sincerely,

An Utterly Uninformed Non-citizen