The debate debate
Eighty-seven million Americans watched the first debate between presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. You’d have thought Honey Boo Boo was going to appear on “Dancing With the Stars.” We’d have learned more, however, if the two candidates had appeared on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”
The first thing the moderator does in a modern debate is tell the TV audience that the live audience has been instructed not to clap or cheer for one candidate or the other. So the obvious question is — why is there a live audience? The real audience is that gigantic TV audience, not the tiny group of people sitting on their hands in the auditorium.
Why don’t they stage the debates in an empty studio of some recently canceled celebrity TV talk show? You wouldn’t have to worry about someone in the audience breaking the rules in favor of one candidate, which is bound to happen sooner or later.
There was no studio audience for the Kennedy/Nixon debates, and they went smoothly, so where did this fake “tradition” of live audiences begin? In some TV executive’s tiny, tiny brain, no doubt. Or maybe it came from a Certified Presidential Debate Consultant — if there is such a thing. If not, you can bet some university will be offering a Ph.D. in that field any day now.
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