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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Two thoughts on the debate:

First, it was amusing to listen to journalists or read their columns over the Gwen Ifill Affair. What affair? The fact that she was moderating the VP debate last night when she had a book due to come out on Inauguration Day; a book with Senator Obama being a major subject. Potential conflict of interest? You bet... what do you think the difference in sales will be between Obama winning and Obama losing the White House?

Everyone I listened or read seemed to agree that Ms. Ifill is a great and respected journalist, top class. Nobody would believe that she would do anything less than a bang-up, professional job and none saw her performance as anything less than that. However that's not the point, the point was that she was in a compromised position and there was never any disclosure to the audience of what position she was in or how she might stand to gain from the victory of one ticket over the other.

The media likes to portray itself as the fourth branch of government. However in the other 3 branches, conflicts of interest are not officially tolerated; judges recuse themselves, politicians put assets in blind trusts, etc. The key is not the operation of a conflict of interest, but its appearance. That point seems to mean nothing to the media.

So why again does the media get a priviliged position at these debates?

Second, alot of talk of who won the debate last night. Some keep score cards of who won on a given question or what not, like this was some sort of high school forensics meet.

Pish Tosh.

Look the VP nominees each had 2 goals for last night:

1) Make the boss look good for picking you since you'll be a heartbeat away; I guess the corollary is don't make your boss look like an idiot for picking you.

2) Take a hatchet to the other guy's boss.

That means looking good and coming across well on TV, not scoring points with Ms. Ifill. For Governor Palin it means getting her points out and not being confined by the questioner, as what happened in the Katie Couric interview. For Senator Biden it was trying to get his experience shine forth by appearing authoritative. If you define "winning" by winning the debate format, then you are a fool; it's about getting your image and views out to those who are watching TV.

Okay I have a third point, more of a question. Maybe it's the TV station I watch or the radio I listen to but alot of talking heads are ripping on Palin for avoiding the questions but hardly one is chewing up Biden for just pumping out gaffes or outright lies by the barrel. Not to say Palin was complete truth-teller she but Biden was so far over the top it wasn't even funny; if she made even a fraction of those whoppers many trees would have been killed to print newspaper that would proclaim she should be dropped from the ticket.

As Jonah Goldberg states, Biden makes up things with great passion and conviction. That type of stuff sounds great and authoritative during the debate but takes more background info than the average voter posseses to be able to detect them as lies. Yet when I listen to stations like NPR, where such background info exists, and the "who said the whopper last night" point comes up Biden gets a free pass