09 June 2008

Obama + McCain vs. Bloomberg?

We might have received a first hint of a McCain-Obama consensus on the town-meeting scheme in their rejection of Michael Bloomberg's invitation to hold a show in his town, to be broadcast on ABC. The candidates apparently don't want their joint appearances to be single-network productions. They're hoping for multiple-network broadcasts, as was once usual for general-election debates, along with live Internet feeds. As I said before, my hunch is that neither man wants to be subject to headhunting from some hot-shot moderator looking for a "gotcha" moment. Bloomberg's role in this episode is mysterious. He still gets mentioned as a possible running mate for both candidates, but did he imagine himself as the moderator? Did he hope to raise his national profile by interrogating the two leading contenders? McCain and Obama were probably asking the same questions. From their viewpoints, it was probably presumptuous of Bloomberg even to extend an invitation. Should the two senators agree on a schedule of events, they'll probably want to set the agenda themselves, without kibitzing from the news networks or interlopers like Bloomberg. I hope the networks don't get snitty about this. It's not as if they're the fourth branch of government, after all. They're not entitled to consult with the candidates about debates. It seems to me that if McCain and Obama want to have a yelling contest in Madison Square Garden or in a Kansas cornfield, it's news no matter what, and the networks ought to cover it without trying to make their talent the star of the show. Until January, they should be saving their gotcha questions for the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue rather than the next one.

4 comments:

hobbyfan said...

The debates, like Presidential press conferences (which happen less frequently these days), should be on all the major broadcast nets and the usual cable news channels. IIRC, Bloomberg still has a weekly radio gig in NYC on a channel owned by ABC's corporate masters at Disney. That might explain their need for some, ah, exclusive coverage.

The only head-hunting that might happen is from some fly-by-night internet jockey looking for attention.

crhymethinc said...

Free coverage of national elections should be part of the licensing agreement with the FCC. Any network should have to provide coverage of all debates and provide a certain amount of free commercial time (equally) to all candidates, thus eliminating the need for campaign contributions and the corruption it engenders

Samuel Wilson said...

Instead of encouraging the PR industry to cook up more commercials, I'd like to see the FCC or the FEC restrict campaign "advertising" to excerpts of speeches delivered to live audiences. Ideally the candidate should be restricted to promoting his own policy and barred from belittling his rivals, but someone would probably say that their rights are being violated if they can't go negative.

hobbyfan said...

I think we all want to see campaign advertising revert back to what it was when we were kids. Unfortunately, our society is so desensitized to scandals and lies in the last 30-35 years that the simplest of messages would fly right over the heads of its target audience.