Americans tuned in to watch the first of three prsidential debates featuring Republican nominee Mitt Romney and the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama on Wednesday, Oct. 3. Instead of seeing two candidates answer questions and debate over questions, what the 70 million Americans who watched the debate saw was two grown men fighting for the attention of the American people.
It’s a growing trend in political campaigns; no longer do voters care about who actually represents the best choice for office, rather the interest rests in which candidate can trash talk the other better.
As the two candidates bickered away, the Twittersphere erupted as users offered live commentary on not just the debaters, but the moderator, Jim Lehrer, as well.
The tweets that filled timelines were far more entertaining than the debate itself. Some were written by high school students who were watching the debate for homework assignments, such as @nascarchick_3 who said: “I can’t believe I have to watch this stupid presidential debate later and write a paper on it #NoBueno.”
Others took a more comedic approach to their commentary, such as @aedwardslevy who said: “I think Elmo just went from red to blue,” in response to Mitt Romney saying that he would like to cut funding to PBS.
Internet humor aside, there were many problems with the manner in which the debate itself was carried out. As countless websites and media outlets have pointed out, Jim Lehrer didn’t really do the moderating part of his moderator job. In an election thats as heated as this one, it’s important to be able to lay down the law when the two candidates go head-to-head. Without moderation, the only thing you’re going to get is two Ivy-League alums trying to talk over one another.
It was interesting to see the sheer lack of power that Obama had. In 2008, the power of Obama’s words were unbeatable. Nothing the McCain campaign did could top the power of an Obama speech. This time around though, President Obama remained in a daze as Mitt Romney spewed as many personal anecdotes and attacks as he could. In the end, much of what Romney had said turned out to be false, which went fairly under-reported in the news media. The next day, many media outlets labeled Mitt Romney as the “winner” of the debate.
Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times, took particular offense to this in his column on Friday, “Romney’s Sick Joke.”
“What Mr. Romney did in the debate, in other words, was, at best, to play a word game with voters, pretending to offer something substantive for the uninsured while actually offering nothing. For all practical purposes, he simply lied about what his policy proposals would do,” said Krugman.
It’s a sad day when a candidate for President of the United States of America can stand in front of a crowd of millions of people and lie through his teeth. Then on top of that, to not face any consequences for doing so. But who’s to blame for this?
Many Americans who identify themselves with the conservative spectrum of politics face a disconnect with much of the mainstream media. A disconnect because they feel that the media lies to them and tries to manipulate their opinions through the spreading of gossip regarding the Republican Party, and in some instances this might be justified.
Here we have a Republican candidate for the presidency who has been proven time and time again to lie about his own policies and plans as president, and we have a demographic that is simply ignoring that because they don’t trust the media.
This distrust is a horrible thing for a democracy. It’s the job of the news media to provide the public with information to promote progress and incite debate. If the public itself doesn’t trust the information they’re receiving, then there may be horrible consequences. According to a Gallup Poll conducted this year, 60 percent American’s have little to no trust in the media. On average, 74 percent of Republicans distrust the media.
Many claim to know what’s going to happen on election day this year, but a lot of speculation still remains. One thing that is certain is that if the American public isn’t properly informed, then the most powerful man in the country could easily become the most dangerous man in the world.