From tax returns to Farrakhan to footage shown by “mistake” to the endless, trivial, gotcha bullshit, this debate spectacle tonight was a classic demonstration of what people really hate about politics. It isn’t actually the candidates who can at least on occasion be substantive and serious. The problem is Tim Russert and all his petty, shallow acolytes who spend all their time reading Drudge and breathlessly reporting every tabloid tidbit and sexy rumor and seeking out minor inconsistencies from years past in lieu of doing any real work.
I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with Digby, nor the collective assessment.
What I heard last night was a meat and potatoes policy debate (health care, NAFTA, Iraq) that was accompanied by the side dishes and garnishments we’ve been inundated with recently.
Shocking stories are what people remember, and follow-up with facts is not the media’s strong suit — nor do they make for exciting headlines. However much one might wish it were not so, we live in a superficial, paparazzi-centric, the-dirtier-the-better society.
Once introduced, innuendo and smears don’t vanish easily. Instead, those “tabloid tidbits” and “sexy rumors” circulate unchecked in people’s minds if they’re not directly addressed. They become reprehensible viral emails and militant forum “discussions”, and can ultimately morph into a poisonous subterranean muck in which the uninformed can flounder.
Airing some of the more recent trivialities, distasteful as it was, gave ordinary people (as in… the more normal folks who aren’t obsessed with political policy minutiae) some direct input from the candidates themselves, and I was relieved when the moderators brought them into the light of day.
Just because the questions were uncomfortable to watch didn’t make them a waste of time.