After reading Brant Clifton's blog post today about how Republican US Senate candidate Mark Harris might end up excluded from an upcoming televised debate due to low polling, I read through some of the comments.
A reader named "NCCOT" asked, "Why does the #NCGOP allow the liberal MSM make the rules for our candidates? Or, are they ok with this??? It will be interesting to see if there is any real outrage from the Harris camp."
It's a great question. Why does EITHER political party turn over their debates almost exclusively to news outlets? It makes a little more sense in general elections, but in primaries? These are intra-party affairs.
In the past, parties needed the help of news outlets. After all, media had access to the voters via the airwaves and newsprint. Candidates' messages could travel much further by allowing the news media to orchestrate the candidate debates.
At the risk of offending media colleagues... the times have changed and the parties probably don't need them to act as the sole hosts of these debates.
There's no good reason why the NC Republican Party couldn't do it themselves and allow media to cover it. Even air it live. But allowing the news departments to dictate terms of the debate? I just don't find it necessary any longer.
I've hosted debates and moderated a few for third-party groups, like the League of Women Voters. And I'm not arguing against these forums. I support more debates. But I don't see why the parties still rely upon these external forums, while failing to their own.
This year there have been some debates at a handful of GOP events, but nothing like what I'm talking about.
This year would've been a great opportunity to launch such an effort. There are eight candidates for the GOP nomination in the Senate race. A debate produced by a local news department is not likely to last longer than 90 minutes.
We'll get one-minute answers to meaningless questions, and wait for some candidate to make a major screw up. We will not be better educated on the candidates or the issues. Ideas will not be discussed in any real way.
However, the NC GOP could've created a series of debates among all the candidates and made them available on-line for voters to examine over the course of months.
Of course, there might be a reason NOT to do this:
Jeff Taylor, who used to blog at the "Meck Deck" site in Charlotte, might be on to something. Essentially, allowing the media to do gives the parties plausible deniability.