In the Democratic debate last night it took 52 minutes to get to a question about Iraq and 64 minutes for a question about the economy. That seems pretty darn bizarre since in poll after poll these are the two topics Americans say are the most important.
Just off the top of my head other topics totally left out of the debate include: Afghanistan, health care, terrorism and al Qaeda, declining value of the US Dollar, education, trade, energy independence, immigration, world food crisis, global warming, Sudan, Tibet, and maybe top of the list for me civil liberties and constraints on government surveillance.
So as you might expect the inter-tubes are not happy.
After the first forty minutes of last night’s Democratic debate, it was clear we were watching something historic. Not historic in a good way, mind you, but historic in the sense of being something so deeply embarrassing to the nation that it will be pointed to, in future books and documentary works, as a prime example of the collapse of the American media into utter and complete substanceless, into self-celebrated vapidity, and into a now-complete inability or unwillingness to cover the most important affairs of the nation to any but the most shallow of depths.
Congratulations are clearly in order. ABC had two hours of access to two of the three remaining candidates vying to lead the most powerful nation in the world, and spent the decided majority of that time mining what the press considers the true issues facing the republic. Bittergate; Rev. Wright; Bosnia; American flag lapel pins. That’s what’s important to the future of the country.
At the present time there are more than 12,000 16,000 comments on just one ABC News story related to the debate. It would appear folks would like our media to do their jobs and deal with topics of substance and not tabloid-based “gotcha” journalism.
Update: More debate analysis here from the Washington Post’s Tom Shales and video of co-moderators George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson getting heckled by the audience when they announce they are going to yet another commercial break.