Left In Lowell

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October 2, 2012

#WorstestModeratorEvah! (Edited)

by at 7:42 am.

Raise your hand, who didn’t see (or at least start watching, perhaps you ran screaming) the Warren-Brown debate? I know you weren’t bothering with the Red Sox, so don’t lie. ;)

I find myself in total agreement with Outraged Liberal, who says, “It was nasty and brutish and when the smoke cleared there was one clear loser in last night’s US Senate debate: moderator David Gregory.” I felt, in a manner of speaking, betrayed. After all, I took some time off in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day down at the Tsgonas as a blogger, doing the blogger thing as best I could with an iPad and a smartphone (laptop is on the fritz). To have spent so much time prepping for this debacle of a debate feels wasted.

media trucks Tsongas debate 2012 What’s more, this was a huge production on the part of UML and the Tsongas Arena. A lot of money was spent last night. The media descended in a mass hoard on the city, the arena was full, and the task of logistics, printing signage, traffic direction, and the police presence, was just enormous. This truly was debate-as-spectacle at its finest. What we got in the final analysis fell so far short of all the prep and hype.

What a missed opportunity, as Dick Howe said last night on Twitter. If I find out Marty Meehan had any clout in picking the DC Villager to moderate this debate I shall be very put out. Being in the crowd, I got a sense that a lot of people there felt the same way. It’s not like an hour debate is long to begin with. And to have nearly half of it being used for the way-overplayed (and, I think, satisfactorily answered ten times over) Cherokee and asbestos-Traveler thing, as well as horse race questions that have no bearing on policy or how each of the candidates would conduct their tenure on the Senate floor, was worse than a wasted opportunity - it was nothing short of a travesty of democracy and a showcase of everything wrong with our media culture today.

The twitterverse that I hang out in pretty much agreed - the showstoppers for the most part were not either candidate. It was how horrid David Gregory was, how precious few minutes he spent on substantive issues like Afghanistan, jobs and the economy, the environment (hint: none) or any other issue of substance. And to leave us with a stupid baseball question (I could see Gregory crowing inside with “see? I know local stuff that’s local!”) when we had already lost so much time on inanities was just the last straw.

One of our local radio guys, or even, hell, Jon Keller! would have done a far superior job. As smug as Keller is in his commentary, he stayed out of the candidate’s way in the first debate, and yet controlled the flow of it pretty well. Meehan made huge mistakes marrying the Herald for their political arm; I am hoping that a divorce is imminent. The polls appear flawed (I don’t say that because they went the opposite way of the rest of the ones which I liked - I say that because there are serious questions about their undersampling of Dems and oversampling of Republicans in a presidential year with Obama topping the ticket), the debate was trash, and I think UML’s reputation has been tarnished by mating with the Herald. The only thing you can say about this event is that, short of being content-free, it was well-run, the staff managed the influx of reporters and radio and news trucks and visitors outstandingly well, and the audience appeared to be quite balanced in terms of its cheers and jeers (Brown got applause and so did Warren). The event ran smoothly and was a credit to the University and the city. Too bad we can’t say the same thing about the debate itself.

I will, however, leave you with this:

Edit: If you want a good post on substance, a good place to start is this analysis by Mass Marrier.

Instead on one major question after another, he played and overplayed his alleged impartial card (a.k.a. the bipartisan ploy). He couldn’t and wouldn’t tell us what we’d get by electing him to a full term. He’d pore over each bill’s contents, he’d listen to all arguments and only then decide what he believed and would do. While he refuses to call himself a Republican in person or in campaign material, that sounded dreadfully like the Romney/Ryan shtick. They say that their economic plan is too complex to explain, so we need to elect them and let Congress work out the details. Walrus wings, I say!

11 Responses to “#WorstestModeratorEvah! (Edited)”

  1. Paul@01852 Says:

    On top of Gregory not choosing substantive issue-oriented questions, he totally lost control of the candidates and the debate. Not only were they BOTH constantly over-talking each other but Gregory was over-talking them and they over-talking him. Embarassing all around.

  2. tryin' Says:

    Maybe it was a lot more about showcasing UML than anything, hence the softball moderator. At the end of the day isn’t that the university’s goal?

  3. Mr. Lynne Says:

    He told us he’s undecided on voting for McConnel.

    He told fundraisers something completely different.

    He’s LYING!

  4. joe from Lowell Says:

    What a weasel.

    Your model justices are Scalia AND Kennedy AND Sotomayor.

    Sure they are, because those three have so much in common.

    If you try to be all things to all people, you end up being exactly nothing.

  5. Lynne Says:

    He only mentioned Kennedy and all the rest when the audience immediately booed his choice of Scalia. It was fishing and coverup.

  6. Brian Flaherty Says:

    I enjoyed it - I don’t usually watch these things but I had no problem with it. I like Gregory and felt that he was part of the draw.

  7. Lynne Says:

    I think you are the first person in the media, online, on twitter, blogs or facebook that I’ve seen say that! LOL

    Always one in a crowd. ;)

  8. Christopher Says:

    Harping on silly-season stuff is hardly unprecedented unfortunately. One example I remember is the debate on ABC in Pennsylvania between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, which was comoderated by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. It was 55 minutes into a two-hour debate before one of them was finally asked about an actual issue (Iraq in this case) they would have to address as President.

  9. Joe S. Says:

    Maybe instead of having a TV personality moderate the debate, they should have had some principled newspaper editor - Jim Campanini for instance!

  10. Robert Forrant Says:

    To truly showcase the University and not its difficult to understand relationship with the Herald, should have insisted on a student moderator and a group of students asking the questions. Otherwise, as this end up being, it was one more morality play that did not focus on the impt issues of economy and jobs, growing student debt, the underfunding of public secondary and higher education, the horrendous treatment of returning vets healthcare and employment wise, and our increasingly difficult foreign policy messes. And, by the way, when did the word professor become the ‘new Willie Horton’. I was brought up to think education was a way forward, now its a sneer word! Yikes.

  11. Lynne Says:

    Joe! Bite your tongue!!!

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