Americans growing increasingly frustrated with CNN’s attempts to hog spotlight at their own debates


Using the term “mainstream media” is more than just a little bit misleading in 2019.  Instead, I prefer the phrase “infotainment industry”, and with good reason.

Today’s “mainstream media” encapsulates a wide array of spin-based organizations, whose entire existence relies on the ability to sell advertising real estate during commercial breaks.  The spin, and the division it creates, it meant simply to anger and sadden viewers, preying on emotion in order to keep eyes glued to the screen.  Then, when you’re good and riled up, they’ll cut to commercial, knowing fully well that you won’t be able to turn away because of your emotional investment.

This isn’t simply media, it is an industry, and it’s exploiting you with entertainment and some information.

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A perfect example of this arrived last night, (and will arrive again tonight), in the form of CNN’s ridiculous behavior during their democratic debates.  The shenanigans were so absurd that even their fellow “news” outlets had to call them out.

The CNN moderators, again and again, employed the very worst types of questions. One style that [Jake] Tapper used repeatedly early on was interrupting to insist that the candidates stick to a portion of a topic that he found interesting (such as whether their health care plans would involve increases in taxes for the middle class) rather than what they wanted to talk about. The night also featured too many gotcha questions, in which a candidate is challenged about something they said.(1) But even worse was a constant theme of asking one candidate to fight with another. Candidate X, what do you think of Candidate Y’s plan?

Those questions have superficial appeal because they appear to get to what separates the candidates. And they promise fireworks, with candidates forced to argue. But in reality, invitation-to-fight questions tend to emphasize the differences that the moderators select, which may or may not be substantively important ones. It leads the debate to focus on areas of internal candidate differences, leaving policy areas where they agree irrelevant – even if those areas are important, and contain real disputes with the other party.

This nonsense has begged the question:  When will the parties themselves decide to run their own debates, rather than rely on the sensationalism of cable “news” outlets who are beholden only to the almighty dollars they generate for their advertisers?

Given that the DNC and RNC has consistently worked to mold these “mainstream” debates to their liking, we can only hope that this shift comes sooner rather than later – for democracy’s sake.

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