If you’re going to ask non-journalists to ask questions at the Democratic presidential debates, how should you go about it? Well, I personally being very nave think you should do it by saying, “Okay, think of a question. As long as it doesn’t violate reasonable requirements of civility, decorum, and relevance, go ahead.”
But the producers at CNN moderating a recent CNN-sponsored presidential debate called “Rock the Vote” didn’t agree with that approach. “Macs or PCs?” one student wanted to know, and everybody groaned at the vapidity of the question. But the student, Alexandra Trustman, reports that it wasn’t her question at all. Trustman says it was a CNN producer who suggested she ask the PC versus Mac thing. She was puzzled but came up with a more complicated, question about technology that she thought more relevant. But the producer told Trustman that “it wasn’t light-hearted enough and they wanted to modulate the event with various types of questions” and instructed her to ask the Mac versus PC thing instead.Â A CNN spokesman says, “In an attempt to encourage a lighthearted moment in this debate, a CNN producer working with Ms. Trustman clearly went too far. CNN regrets the producer’s actions.”
Okay. I’m glad they admitted they steered the student wrong. But they’re still not ‘fessing up to the bigger problem here. Their whole spin approach as such was a blunder. There’s a difference between moderating and sit-com directing. And if you really want to know what the people want to know, you let them ask.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.