By Frank Moraes
The New York Times has an article by Brian Stelter about the presidential debates, “Memo Outlines Format and Rules for Candidate Debates.” It basically demonstrates that the debates are a sham.
The most important part of the article is a quote from George Farah, “an anti-trust lawyer who runs Open Debates, a group that calls the current debate system antidemocratic.” He says:
In 1992, audience members and the moderator could ask anything, and no one knew the questions to be asked. In 1996, follow-up questions were banned… In 2004, all questions had to be prescreened by the moderator in advance, in some ways arguably reducing the audience members to props. In 2012, there are new restrictions on what the moderator herself can do — no follow-ups, no reinterpretations of questions, nothing really, except keep time and hold the microphone.
Of course, there is also the argument that Lawrence O’Donnell has put forth that the debates are basically useless because they don’t test what a president actually does:
But Farah is correct that we can’t get to the heart of what the candidates believe if we can’t have an honest debate — artificial as the whole process may be.
(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)