Suggested Variety Headline: "CNBC Debate Dud" -- but for some of the candidates, the NBC business channel's inept handling of the October presidential debate was a plus. Texas Senator Ted Cruz got big audience re-enforcement when he slapped back at the three panelists. Jersey Chris slammed the need to discuss the urgent presidential issue of Fantasy Football which was actually a question about government regulation.
This panel's lead-up chatter to the debate should have been a clue. The very first rule of all group TV conversations: DO NOT TALK OVER EACH OTHER! Carl Quintanilla, Betsy Quick and John Harwood may have thought it was all quite stimulating but their cross-talk comes out of tv speakers as delphic jibber-jabber. Then came the friction-seeking, ratings-boosting questions followed by innocuous post-debate analysis.
The critical question now is: What impact will these duffers have on this weeks GOP debate? You may have heard several ideas following the CNBC exchange including the mandate that future panels must all be certified Republicans. Seeing that Tuesday's debate is on Fox, it seems the idea carried.
Presidential debate panels used to be made up of recognized and well respected journalists like Gwen Ifill, Tom Brokaw or Jim Lehrer. And many of the past debates were handled by the respected League of Women Voters.
Will future panelists throw more softball questions for fear of criticism? Will other news channels be more hesitant to air the debates? The fact the bunglers at CNBC were the second lead story coming out of the debate should embarrass the suits at NBC-Universal.
On the other hand, THIS is snappy journalism...
When Lamar Odom was found unconscious Tuesday in a Nevada brothel, he'd "wandered off the beaten path of adult entertainment culture, back into an analog version of an increasingly high-tech sex-play universe."
John M. Glionna and Javier Panzar, Los Angeles Times.
On the subject of news writing, here's a case of omission, not commission. "Kids in military families prone to alcohol, drug abuse" read the headline of a recent Los Angeles Times story. The article credits an analysis of a 2013 survey of secondary school students in every California county. Quoting the lead author of the survey about why military kids are using more mind altering substances than their civilian peers the story says it's "due to the increased stressors faced by military families during wartime." OK, sounds reasonable. The Times reporter writes that the study did NOT collect data about family income, parental education levels or household gun ownership that might help explain the differences between military and civilian folks. OK, not so good. But here's the nub: Did the survey ever ask "How many times have you moved in the last few years?" Military families move, they move a lot and they move all over the world. Every few years kids have to pull up roots, discard friends, leave still- forming identities and get plopped down on a new base, new country, new school, new people and new schedules. Kids have to re-introduce and integrate themselves all over, again, again and again. Common sense says that might be just a wee unsettling for kids causing all sorts of issues in addition to alcohol and drugs. Either this fundamental life-changing question wasn't asked in the survey, wasn't asked by the Times reporter, Alan Zarembo, or just wasn't reported in his article. Either way: It's what's NOT here that's puzzling and ineffective journalism. Not good at all.
Then there's all the news stories about the sizzling issue about which public restrooms transgender people are allowed to use. When the national debate is toilets, we are in trouble.