So who will decide which 30-second YouTube "video questions" get broadcast on Monday?
CNN will produce the televised events and will select the questions used in the debates. [E.A.]
Kind of misses the point, doesn't it? Instead of being spontaneously and uncontrollably selected by Web democracy, the YouTube questions will be safely filtered through the predictable, respectable sensibilities of CNN editors. They'll be not much different from the queries traditionally sent to the front of the room on index cards--just in video form. Sure, the questions will be asked by "voters from around the country," but debates have been accepting (filtered) email questions for years, no?
You can view the three video questions CNN's editors have already chosen as samples. They're safe and easily answered queries about discrete issues--glorified index cards.** It looks like a long evening.
It's not too late for CNN to save its "unprecedented" format. The debate is a week away. Post all the competing videos on YouTube tomorrow afternoon in a way that easily lets viewers pick the most popular, and commit CNN to broadcast, say, 20 questions from the top 40 submissions at random. No gatekeeping. (There are presumably technical tricks to filter out ballot-box-stuffing by various campaigns, some of which are already trying to gin up submissions. If that can't be done, go with the viewer's selections anyway. Let's see the stuff the ballot-box-stuffers stuff. The ballot-stuffing competition would itself help build excitement.)
A no-gatekeeper format really would be unprecedented, and will terrify the candidates. Politicians know the sorts of questions CNN editors pick. They can handle those questions. But who knows what an army of partisan geeks in their basements will select? Even if the questions aren't penetrating in themselves, we'll get to see the candidates react to unpredictable events, which will be revealing even if the questions themselves are stupid.
Anderson Cooper can always ask follow-up questions and calm things down. He's good at that.
**--One of the sample videos is mildly obnoxious in a way that would make a CNN editor think it has "attitude." Not a virtue. ... 2:45 P.M. link
An Al-Qaida cell in Hollywood? 2:58 A.M.
kf--Still Solution-Oriented! PoliPundit reports on an email from Roy Beck of Numbers USA on a possible incremental, enforcement-only immigration initiative:
I can tell you from the last six days of our meetings with several Democratic Members of the House, with a number of their Republican counterparts, with fellow advocacy groups and with top Senate GOP staffers, there is very strong growing sentiment that it is time to remove the jobs magnet for illegal immigration.
The overwhelming favorite appears to be to make the "Basic Pilot" electronic workplace verification system mandatory for all businesses with contracts with the federal government.