Obama, Hillary and ... Blitzer?

News & Politics

Chris Dodd's campaign clocked how much time each candidate received during yesterday's Dem debate. You can see why Dodd did the clocking -- only Joe Biden and Mike Gravel got less gab time than the Senator did.

Obama led the field in airtime, speaking for 16 minutes during the two-hour event. Clinton came in second. And third?


Wolf Blitzer.

The Nation's John Nichols rightly takes Blitzer to task:
Despite the fact that this was a two-hour debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer acted throughout the night as if he was hosting "Beat the Clock." Of course, a moderator must keep a crowded field under control. But the candidates weren't the ones who were off the leash. Rather, it was the CNN anchor who repeatedly interrupted contenders who were trying to explain the basics of their positions, cut off thoughful answers in mid-sentence and failed to follow up when significant points of difference – on issues such as trade policy – were thrown into the mix.
Worst of all, Blitzer tried to take complex issues and reduce them to show-of-hand stunts.
At one point, Blitzer tossed a wild hypothetical at the candidates: If they knew where Osama bin Laden would be for 20 minutes, would they move to eliminate him even if that meant killing "innocent civilians"? Blitzer's question raised fundamental questions: What do we mean by innocent civilians? Are we talking about children? How many would die? Could bin Laden be captured? Would taking him out compromise a flow of intelligence that might provide information that could prevent future attacks on Americans?
Kucinich tried to explore subtleties of international law and common sense, but Blitzer shut him down. Instead of a nuanced discussion on how the U.S. might operate in a post-Bush world, Blitzer simply demanded that candidates raise their hands if they were for getting bin Laden.
Moments later, after Delaware Senator Joe Biden suggested using military force to end the genocide in Darfur, Blitzer was again calling for a show of hands.
No room for a discussion about what sort of force – a no-fly zone or troops on the ground, an international coalition or a U.S.-led expedition, a full-fledged attack on another Muslim state or peacekeeping in the desert – just hands in the air by candidates who were for marching on Africa.
Blitzer was determined to race past anything akin to a serious discussion.
I feel like the majority of public policy is made with a determination to race past anything akin to a serious discussion. The Wolf Blitzers of the world may not be wholly to blame for that, but their vapid sound-bytes sure do piss me off.

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