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Media on trial at tonight’s presidential debate

Media on trial at tonight’s presidential debate

The standing of the media may be what is most at stake in tonight’s debate, as moderator CNN’s Candy Crowley comes under intense scrutiny after perceived “fails” by Jim Lehrer and Martha Raddatz in the two past debates.

Both the Romney and Obama campaigns have jointly agreed that questions should only come from the audience, but in an interview with Wolf Blitzer last night, Crowley said that she intended to ask follow-up questions:

It’s a town hall meeting.  There will be questioners to the right and left of me and in front of the candidates.  And they will have the questions.  And as was the case in the Charlie Gibson town hall meeting and the Tom Brokaw town hall meeting in presidential campaigns past, there is a time after that for follow-up and for furthering the discussion.

There is little doubt that the media have been covering for Obama for the past four years. But Powerline Blog predicts that if Obama has another lackluster performance, his willing accomplices, the media, *might* begin to turn on him. They compare this election with the way the media turned on Jimmy Carter in 1980:

Obama is repeating one of the same mistakes as the Carter campaign: Carter and Obama both thought the road to re-election was attacking their Republican opponent and making him an unacceptable alternative.  Neither laid out a vision of what a second term might look like; neither had a new positive agenda.  The media is happy to play along—up to a point.  Today’s media is several steps further to the left than the media in 1980, but they still like a winning narrative and hate a loser, and so they might turn in small ways against Obama.

A media disassociating itself from Obama may be a little too optimistic for some. Obama will be feeling the pressure to show he’s awake at this one, which Byron York refers to as his “do-over,” and he will need all the help he can get from the media. In particular, how he chooses to handle Benghazi (will he go for a scripted presidential moment by taking responsibility?) could be a make-or-break moment.

Others are sure the media has been put into pre-debate spin control. Take, for example, Huffington Post contributor Ron Ashkenas’s well-timed article in the Harvard Business Review explaining how someone who’s a great debater might actually be a *horrible* leader. And blogger Todd Stump predicts the media narrative has already been sealed, and that it will be “awkward”:

Look for the narrative tonight to be either that a) Romney was “awkward” and “uncomfortable” in the town hall format, or that he was “less awkward” and “more comfortable” than expected.  I suspect that reporters already have two articles teed up and are ready to press Send.

The question to Crowley and to the media becomes, what is more important: to continue to shill for Obama, and perhaps go down with the ship, or to reassert a dash of J-school objectivity? We may find out tonight.

H/T Backyard Conservative


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Isn’t this very article a form of pre-debate spin control? It’s the media on trial, not the candidates themselves? I love the meta-speak on spin. It really makes me appreciate the critical thinking classes I took in College.

    Valerie in reply to Paul. | October 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Fortunately, I took chemistry, math, physics and statistics instead of “critical thinking.” They have served me well.

    Those of us who actually watched Barack Obama’s speeches and his performance in debates during the last election were dismayed by the media’s ability to see some sort of demigod instead the rather ordinary mortal he is.

    This article is merely asking if they are going to do the same thing they did the last time.

    gasper in reply to Paul. | October 16, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Spin control is a moderator who thinks she knows better than the rest of the country what we need and is saying to hell with rules. Is there any doubt she won’t try to give Obama a break? The truth is: Obama is Chauncey of “Being There” and no matter what she tries, he will be lost. His handlers know that which is why they oppose her tactics. I suppose if he manages to string two coherent sentences together he will be deemed the winner. But, what to me is the height of arrogance is a media who interviews these people 365 days a week through numerous media venues and won’t allow actual citizens a few minutes to ask their questions without wanting to control and dominate the narrative. It’s crass and disgusting. Who in the hell do they think they are? And, who do they think we are?

    RomneyFan01 in reply to Paul. | October 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    hey, Paul, critically think about this! If the media wasn’t super left wing why do these so-called moderators keep asking about Romneys tax plan? You don’t see them grilling Obama about his failed policies do you? The candidates are on trial, but its a sham court with a socialist jury that already made up their minds! If Obama “wins” this debate it will be due to a left wing media and it will have nothing to do with Romney’s shortcomings. Socialist!

As has been said elsewhere, I expect the Crowly will ask Obama, “Mr. Prez, how long have you liked kitties.” while asking Mr. Romeny “Why did you kill that poor steel worker’s wife when you owned Bain…”

“Media on trial at tonight’s presidential debate”

Anne! Please!

They entered a “guilty” plea years ago!

I am worried. Mitt can handle Obama, but it gets tougher when the moderator is against you:

In Candy’s room, there are food wrappers all over the floor,
but to get to Candy’s room, you gotta walk the darkness of CNN’s halls,
Staffers from Obama, call my baby’s number and they bring her cheese,
When I come knocking, she smiles pretty, she knows I wanna be Candy’s squeeze,
There’s a sadness hidden in that pretty rounded face,
a sadness all her own,
with the hope the media can keep Obama safe.
We eat a pizza,
my heart burn coming back again,
when I touch the last piece of pizza, She stabs a fork in my hand,
I go driving deep into the light, in Candy’s eyes. She says,
“Just wait for the Presidential Debate suckas!
Talk about a death wish!”

Media on trial at tonight’s presidential debate
…oh, please – that trial was over long ago and the verdict was unanimous: GUILTY OF MASSIVE LEFTIST BIAS. Now let’s move on to the hanging !

I suspect Obama will do better tonight than he did in the first debate, and that will be enough for the media to proclaim this an Obama victory. If so, both Obama and the media will rate this debate a stunning success.

As for the media, IMO the media and its reporters aren’t on trial tonight or any other night. But I admit that I judged them guilty of bias a long, long time ago.

MicahStone and I think alike.

ShakesheadOften | October 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm

The results of tonight’s debate are already written by the media. They had a moment of truth telling after the first debate and Obama plummeted in the polls as a result. They won’t let that happen again. No matter what happens, expect them to call it a comeback.

I’m curious to see whether they have plants, again.

I have some sympathy for CNN on this one. Genuinely undecided voters who will tolerate being put on TV are probably few and far between. CNN may very well have underestimated the degree of background-checking they needed to do.

Henry Hawkins | October 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Romney won the first debate based less on what Obama failed to do than on what Romney got done: He identified himself as personable, knowledgeable, articulate, and without horns. The mythic beast Obama had warned America about didn’t exist. Both the Wicked Witch and the Wizard were exposed and Romney was judged instead to be a viable candidate for the presidency. That’s getting a lot done in one debate.

Tonight, all Romney needs to do to ‘win’ is to continue to display policy knowledge, ability to explain policies short and sweet, willingness to be assertive, and unwillingnedss to be bullied by opponent or moderator. Obama can score zingers left and right, but it won’t lower the unemployment rate, it won’t create a job – nor preserve his own, it won’t spur the economy, it won’t lower debt, and it won’t kill Obamacare. Romney needs only to hold his own to win in the big picture.

However, I have a gut feeling Obama is going to screw the pooch tonight. Fell asleep at my desk again this afternoon and I had this vision where Obama starts out well enough, too well aqctually – nails a few questions, deploys a couple zingers, and folks are getting a might uncomfortable on the GOP side of things when something happens. Not sure what, missed it in my dream and it’s tough to predict, but Obama is going to say or do something that brings an immediate ‘uh-oh’ from his supporters, he’s gonna get nervous, try too hard to fix it, make it worse, flail about, and then begin to fall apart from that point forward. Internally he’ll slowly begin to grasp – you’ll be able to see it on his face – that it is finally all over for him in this campaign. By the time of Obama’s closing statement he’ll already have half his blame list compiled, while his staff will have begun thinking about their next jobs.

Insufficiently Sensitive | October 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

or to reassert a dash of J-school objectivity?

Ahem! If the lemming-like behavior of the current cohort of J-school graduates means anything, it means that every one of them missed the ten-minute seminar on objectivity, while devoting most of their years to ‘making a difference’.

    It isn’t bias controlling media distortion, it their livihood.
    This past summer the MFM floated a programn that the Feds would now become their Sugardaddy with a select few as their readership/viewers dissappear…Fox not invited.
    If the Punk gets relected taxpayers will pay their undeserved talaries wether they like it or not

Isn’t your hovering comment an attempt at liberal spin?

Shoot The Questioner? That’s all you got, Mr. I took a Critical Thinking Collage Class?

The Media Is Left-Biased and only those who live under rocks are clueless about that.

Candy Crowley is a dutiful Obama Cheerleader and her actions will be scrutinized like a bug under a microscope by both sides.



Paul | October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Isn’t this very article a form of pre-debate spin control? It’s the media on trial, not the candidates themselves? I love the meta-speak on spin. It really makes me appreciate the critical thinking classes I took in College.

If the media truly turns on Obama, he’s toast. He’ll be lucky to carry the District of Columbia. The media have created a potemkin village that Barack himself, rank-and-file Democrats, and the politically unaware that Obama is anything but a weak candidate for reelection.

I’m posting this after the debate and clearly the “Town Hall” concept was negated by the moderator who was overtly in favor of O’bammy.

Romney did OK and that’s all he had to do. He had the substance while “O” had the flash.

I don’t expect much to change in the polling trends…

    Skookum in reply to GrumpyOne. | October 17, 2012 at 4:07 am

    How many undecided voters were deprived of their opportunities to ask their questions because of Candy’s lame followup questions? And, what an act of pro-Zero bias and CNN ignorance when she backed up Zero’s false claim of labeling the Benghazi consulate attack as an act of terror! Clearly! Mitt was debating two opponents.

    Future debates need to exclude narcissistic news commentators (i.e., all news commentators). All that is needed is a fair, faceless, and mute timekeeper.

Jim Lehrer should feel vindicated.