Media General's Bi-Party Debate Drops the Ball, But We Get Why ....
It's Monday the 4th about 430PM, and many of you will likely be going to the FMU Performing Arts Center to watch WBTW-FMU's debate for the 7th Congressional seat. Unfortunately, we will not be among the attendees. No, we're not boycotting it or anything - we're still in New York, and we will be here until right before Primary Day. If we were in town we'd have gone, but we already watched the debate at West Florence High,and we saw what we wanted to, and our vote has already been cast... No, we'll wait just a tad longer to divulge who got our Kiss of Death.
So it's entirely possible that you will not read this until after tonight bi-partisan debate for the seat. Yeah, we have sat on this for a while, mainly because there is really nothing we or anyone can do about it. But, instead of asking why this happened, we'll do what few have - we'll explain WHY..
It's pretty simple: while overall, the WF High debate was a success, it had one obvious flaw - too many candidates, not enough time. When you have nine people on stage, you only have to ask two questions before you have to clear out the 'dead wood' of second and third tier candidates to let the big guys hack it out. In case you didn't figure it out, that was the whole purpose of the poll last month: to find out which GOP candidates deserved to be on stage, and which would be in the parking lot...
So, why did only four of the nine GOP candidates make the cut for the debate, and all five (now four) of the Democratic candidates were included? Simple, the GOP poll, while not perfect, gave a good enough idea to WBTW who the frontrunners were, and who were also-rans... The Democratic poll was a total clusterf**k - I think 60% were undecided - mainly because the candidates haven't been out there like the Republicans. So, WBTW is kinda doing them a favor by allowing all of them to get some exposure to voters. They'll either establish themselves, or hang themselves. Such is the risk when you have ONE SHOT to make an impression - It's Sink or Swim.....
Now, to us, the point of a two-party debate is stupid. Seven of the nine candidates on stage will NEVER be running against each other, so why put them onstage together? Our only guess is either they assumed South Carolina is non-party voting, so a potential usual voter for one side might be impressed with the other party's candidate, and vote there instead. God, we hops not, because that thinking is ridiculous... Nope, we have another thought, and some candidates can blame it on other candidates.
Since WBTW-FMU ok'd nine candidates for this vote, the common sense thing to do would be to have TWO debates - one for each party. It would match the right people running against each other, although it is a bit duller having nine candidates who agree debating each other. Our answer to that is for the panelists to actually ask followup questions. Don't just read the cue card - listen, and pull some damned information out from these people! With four candidates, you can do that.
Yeah, it's harder with nine, but not impossible. However, we understand why WBTW would not put all nine GOP candidates onstage. Even we will admit, there are a couple bombthrowers in the field that, lets say, WBTW would be uncomfortable with giving an open mic on live TV... We understand - there are a couple media outlets that prefer to tape us, rather than do it live... So, it appears to be a simple case of a couple second tier candidates getting knocked out of the debate by a third tier candidate or two. Yeah, it could easily be fixed by taping the two debates, editing anything that might be inppropriate, and airing a day or two later, but that's a lot of work for a small-market TV station. Then again, that's why they have interns, right?
Overall, the biggest problem with tonight's program is the format with both parties, then not having a lot of the candidates, especially when someone like Katherine Jenerette, who polled at 4%, is skipped, but Jay Jordan gets in at 5%.... Katherine may be handy with an assault rifle, but that Florence Baptist Temple cash has just a bit more firepower, doesn't it? Such is politics... For our money, the debate on Thursday will be the better one to watch if you're a Republican - but you never know. Maybe we'll get a naked protestor or two there tonight!