Diamonds And Pearls Are A Girl's Best Friend (But Maybe Not Her Question Of Choice)

Diamonds And Pearls Are A Girl's Best Friend (But Maybe Not Her Question Of Choice)

Everyone is pretty much in agreement that last night's "Diamonds or Pearls?" query to Hillary Clinton at the CNN Democratic Debate in Las Vegas was a total clunker. Now from The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder comes word that the UNLV student who asked the question, Maria Luisa, had not, in fact, expected to ask that question, but had rather prepared a question about the proposed Yucca Mountain site for nuclear waste. Ambinder tracked the story to Luisa's MySpace page, which he excerpted as follows:

"Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by CNN...I was asked to submit questions including "lighthearted/fun" questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance. CNN ran out of time and used me to "close" the debate with the pearls/diamonds question."

Oh, ouch — it's almost worse knowing that someone actually gave the thumbs-up to "diamonds or pearls?" in advance. Here's the CNN response (also pillaged from Ambinder):

Sam Feist, the executive producer of the debate, said that the student was asked to choose another question because the candidates had already spent about ten minutes discussing Yucca Mountain.

"When her Yucca mountain question was asked, she was given the opportunity to ask another question, and my understand is that the [diamond v. pearls] questions was her other question," Feist said. "She probably was disappointed, but we spent a lot of time with a bunch of different candidates on Yucca Mountain, and we were at the end of the debate."

Our take: Luisa doesn't deny submitting the "diamonds or pearls" question, and could have refused in horror...though that's a pretty high standard for a kid to meet in the heat of the moment with a mike in your face and the chance to address the presidential candidates on national TV. It sucks that Luisa is taking heat right now (it's an obit-leader) but it sucks more that anyone at CNN actually THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE A GOOD QUESTION TO ASK, EVER. Sheesh.

Meanwhile, Ambinder also notes that there are rumblings that the debate audience had a "pro-Clinton tilt"; as we (and others) have noted, CNN's postgame panel featured both James Carville (former Bill Clinton advisor and current Hillary Clinton supporter) and David Gergen, also a Clinton White House advisor (but, to be fair, also for Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush I. Even so, as a counselor to Clinton, it ought to have been noted — particularly when paired with the no-ifs-ands-or-buts-about-it Clintonite Carville). Our take: Did anyone see that postgame wrap-up? Urk. If comments like, "Hillary Clinton was rested and ready" were supposed to help his candidate, then Gergen's not all that much help. The other campaigns ought to be glad they weren't part of it.

"Diamond v. Pearl" Student Blasts CNN [The Atlantic]

Diamonds & Pearls [Prince]

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