Friday, October 1

fake spontaneity

I was looking for a transcript of the Bush-Kerry debate since it was broadcast while I was slumbering here in Geneva. I ran across a couple of different articles that paint opposite views of the nature of the debates. One chunk of the debate transcript that CNN posted has Jim Lehrer, the host, saying:
The umbrella topic is foreign policy and homeland security, but the specific subjects were chosen by me, the questions were composed by me, the candidates have not been told what they are, nor has anyone else.

For each question there can only be a two-minute response, a 90-second rebuttal and, at my discretion, a discussion extension of one minute.

But then another article, from the day before the debate says:
A full transcript of Thursday's presidential debate between President George W. Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry was released Wednesday, sparking criticism that the debate has been overly choreographed by the committee representing the two major parties.

I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. You might think that the pre-debate transcript is just a guideline, and then the candidates will wing it as necessary. But, in the same article:
“We have shared the written transcript with both President Bush and Senator Kerry and warned them to stick to the script”, said Davis Loudon of the Presidential Debate Steering Committee. “If they stray one iota, we're threatening to turn the heat in the room up to 71 degrees.”

Minor threat, I know, but still it seems we're again being presented with a show that purports to be something it's not. CNN makes it sound like they're working hard on posting the transcript. They should just try to get their hands on the pre-written script.


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