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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Debates So Far... Scorecard for Lehrer, Ifill and Gibson

UPDATE: Hugh... you changed the subject!!! ARGHH! Here are my thoughts on the original topic anyway.

Hugh Hewitt on his site posed three questions with regards to the three moderators so far. Here are my thoughts

Jim Lehrer 1st Debate
Did bias or quirkiness show through?
Yes, bias especially. Lehrer asked four opening questions regarding sept 11, both of which put Bush as the incumbent on the defensive. Lehrer aksed the second question with a statement that "THE election of Senator Kerry" and NOT "IF". This was an inherently loaded question. Bush had to waste time, defending his belief that he will win. Some might believe this style of interviewing is needed, because Bush is incumbent, but I believe that the Lehrer did so in a way which was more "loaded", then an honest position of inquiry.

Were obvious questions left unasked?
Yes, to Kerry. You have said that you would build the coalition to include countries like France, Germany, and Russia. How would you do this, seeing that each of these countries has expressed that they will not be doing so?
To Bush. What were the reasons that you believed before invading Iraq, that WMD would be found, and what lead you to bellieve that diplomatic efforts had been exhausted?

Ought they to be invited back in 2008?
I think that it was plainly obvious that Lehrer did a poor job in question selection, or question formulation. If he cannot even mask his left leaning bias in the questions he asks, I do not believe that he deserves to interview in a national broadcast debate.

Overall, Lehrer was terrible as a moderator.

Gwen Ifill VP debate
Did bias or quirkiness show through?
I think Ifill did a good job of putting questions that an even pressure on each of the candidates. Cheney was a asked a question first up on the basis of a factual report. Not of media, or public sentiment. That's good questioning. Then Edwards is asked a question on the basis of what he and Kerry had actually said regarding Saddam and the attack on Iraq. I was not able by the end of the debate to clearly know from which side of the political spectrum she was from. I liked that. It left it up to the candidates to put there case on a level field.
Quirky. Yes. A little abrupt, and staid. Her question about Afican American women and AIDS, was her only poor choice of question. To a VP, this factoid minutiae made me feel uncomfortable, because it was coming from left field. Neither of the candidates knew hwat they were talking about, and it did little to advance the listeners interest in the debate. She could have framed her question much better, and had much more intelligent responses from both Cheney and Edwards. Ifill did let go of the reins a little towards the end when she allowed Edwards to talk out of turn. Sensed that maybe she was stressed a little.

Were obvious questions left unasked?
Border control, and illegal immigration should be asked about in the domestic policy part of these debates. Bush strung himself up last year, by bringing up the possibility of giving an amnesty. I would like to hear what both parties views on this subject are today.

Ought they to be invited back in 2008?
I think Ifill did well, and she would probably do well again.

Charles Gibson 2nd Debate
Did bias or quirkiness show through?
It's hard to say that Gibson had bias when he did not ASK the questions, but he did selct the questions to be asked. So assuming that there were other questions framed differently to the questions asked WHICH WERE BETTER... here goes.
The questions on Iraq were both ways. After a couple questions which held a vieled premise that things in Iraq were NOT going well, there was one which asked Kerry whether he would do the same as Bush when Bush is preparing a new Iraqi government, and preparing to bring troops home. That was a fair balance to the first questions. This continued I think through the debate.
Gibson allowed the candidates to talk when they needed to, and didn't let the candidates get away from the question when they tried to evade. I liked that he did that.
There were certainly a question or two that were loaded.

......American people your solemn pledge not to sign any legislation that will increase the tax burden on families earning less than $200,000 a year during your first term?

....President Bush, 45 days after 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which takes away checks on law enforcement and weakens American citizens' rights and freedoms, especially Fourth Amendment rights. With expansions to the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, my question to you is, why are my rights being watered down and my citizens' around me? And what are the specific justifications for these reforms?

... and the biggest loaded question of them all..........

President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.

I can't with honesty say that I felt a strong bias in the questions Gibson selected. I am biased so I see the questions I highlighted as examples of questions asserting a particular belief the questioner holds of the candidate, MORE than an honest inquiry. People on the other side of the political spectrum might see a bias the other way.

I felt that the room on the night was slightly left leaning, from the questions Gibson picked. Gibson was better than Lehrer, but not Ilfill. in this area.

Were obvious questions left unasked?
I felt that a wide selection of questions were made. Out of the three debates this debate had better 'roundedness', in the issues covered. That should have been expected.

Ought they to be invited back in 2008?
We do not know what questions Gibson left out. Maybe the other questions were dreadful, or of the same type, so the questions on the night were the best put up. Then again maybe they were not.
The only real criteria for judging his performance then is as a moderator. In this I think he did well, and would be interested to see him perform as interviewer.

the king of the Hill

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