Sunday, November 13, 2011

the forum they deserved

So Republican Debate IX (possibly even X or XI) which took place last night was the first one intended for the general public insofar as it was the first one to be broadcast on the public airwaves. (No, the C-Span debate doesn't count). It was carried on the 'Tiffany Network', a fact that probably made Newt Gingrich feel a little giddy and everyone else apprehensive. CBS doesn't really have what you would call a strong commitment to news and political programming. What they have instead is '60 Minutes', which gives them a week's worth of gravitas in a single convenient serving.
Just how unserious is CBS? They did actually schedule a debate, which is something that 'serious' networks do. They even gave it an important sounding moniker - 'The Commander-in-Chief Debate', although it would be hard to imagine anyone on the stage as Commander-in-Chief material without the benefit of some really potent mushrooms. They even had Scott Pelley (from 60 Minutes!) as one of the moderators and put the focus on foreign policy, which is a topic that most of the candidates have avoided like the plague.
And, uh, they interrupted the debate about halfway through. Now supposedly local affiliates had the option to run the whole debate, although CBS 'forgot' to make that possible. But never fear, you could watch it streaming live on their website. Which, of course, crashed. Now, it is technically possible for a network to delay the broadcast of 'your regularly scheduled program', which is something CBS does nearly every Sunday during football season. But really, that's not a very reasonable request, seeing that at 9:00 they were running a very special episode of 'NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service'. Which is not even regularly scheduled in that time slot, except for last night, because CBS figured that airing half of a debate beforehand would undoubtedly lead to some really boffo ratings. Great job, fellas! I think you've got your next episode of '60 Minutes' already in the can.

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