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The Press Conference Debate
The Fox News format was a disservice to voters.
Last night and this morning, I’ve been trying to measure the performances of the candidates, but I can't get over my frustration at Fox News. I just don't understand their thought process in laying out a debate format in this way.
The point of a debate, at least as I've always understood, is for candidates to differentiate themselves, to have them introduce themselves and make their cases to voters, and to allow candidates to lay out their competing visions and plans in contrast with each other.
This is why, the best debates typically involve asking a single question of all the candidates, giving each candidate a certain amount of time to answer the question as they see fit, and allowing a smaller amount of time to any candidate mentioned to offer a rebuttal.
Instead, the Fox News moderators and the format they followed almost seemed designed to avoid debate and interchange, to only allow one or maybe two candidates at a time to weigh in on a given topic before forcing things to move on to other issues.
The format forced the candidates to essentially have to subvert the format in order to make themselves heard on certain issues. Candidates who simply waited to be called on to answer a question would find themselves ignored for broad stretches of the debate.
And the few moments we had where the candidates were actually differentiating themselves from each other and engaging each other in ways that revealed their strengths, weaknesses, differences, and temperaments were the times when the debate got away from the moderators.
It just seems like Fox News had in mind, not a debate, but a panel news conference. They just jumped from question to question, each one directed at only one candidate, as if they thought each candidate would be content to only talk about the issues that were brought forward in their question.
But this is a political campaign. No politician worth their salt is going to stand by and allow their opponent to own an issue. But without an avenue to, you know, have a debate, the candidates were left to wrestle their way into the discussion to offer their views on any given issue. I just think the American people were greatly disserviced last night, and the candidates were robbed of opportunities to alter the current dynamics of the race because the format was just so confining toward having a real debate.
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