Do Debates Matter? – by Joseph P. Williams November 13, 2015


Democrat Sen. John Kennedy, left and Republican Richard Nixon, right, as they debated campaign issues at a Chicago television studio on Sept. 26, 1960. Moderator Howard K. Smith is at desk in center.

They’re often described with action words reserved for warfare or contact sports – battles, fights, counterattacks – with winners and losers determined within minutes of completion. Participants come armed with battle plans, self-serving data and talking points intended to create headline-generating heat, not necessarily policy light.

Critics say the televised, speed chess-meets-Mortal Kombat competitions between politicians who want to lead the free world too often turn on stumbles, errors and style over substance. Supporters insist on their value, but want reforms, now more than ever.

[READ: Immigration, Foreign Policy Splits Republicans In Fourth Debate]

Given such high stakes, relatively low expectations and declining overall TV viewership in an era where Twitter is a news source: Why are presidential debates still a thing?

Though they sometimes resemble the reality show “Survivor” more than a serious forum about the nation’s future, presidential debates are one of the top sources of information for voters, according to analyses and TV ratings. They can also determine which candidates can tap the ever-widening pipeline of money in politics – from small donors kicking in a few dollars to wealthy elites deciding which future president, or super PAC, is the best bet for their millions.

Yet the decades-old, gladiators-on-TV format is looking increasingly battle-worn.

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http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2015/11/13/do-presidential-debates-matter?int=a14709

Trevor Noah Takes On Ben Carson’s Media Bias Claims – Posted: 11/10/2015 03:22 PM EST | Edited: 11/10/2015 03:33 PM EST


 

 

“Challenge accepted, Dr. Carson.”

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Trevor Noah on Monday decided to take a closer look at GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s assertion that the media is vetting his background more intensely than it did for President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign.

Republican candidates have spent a great deal of time so far in this election cycle criticizing the media for liberal bias — from critiquing the way debates have been moderated to complaining about being treated “unfairly” by the media — and Carson has been no exception to this trend. In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Carson claimed that the media is investigating his past with more fervor than any other presidential candidate in prior elections.

“I have not seen that with anyone else,” Carson told NBC’s Chris Jansing. “If you can show me where that’s happened with someone else, I’ll will take that statement back.”

“Challenge accepted, Dr. Carson,” Noah said on “The Daily Show,” before showing a montage of news clips from the 2008 election cycle in which the media exhaustedly vetted then-Senator Obama’s background — going so far as to question whether he was really a U.S. citizen.

“Yeah, so they vetted Obama to the point where they questioned that he was a legitimate natural-born American citizen,” Noah said. “But at least no one ever accused Obama of not stabbing a guy.”

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trevor-noah-ben-carson_5642073ce4b0307f2caeeacb

 

J.J. Abrams, Star Wars Superfan, on Directing The Force Awakens – Scott Dadich November 2015


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Photo by Dan Winters

Step through the sleek, anonymous metal door of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and you enter a world of memorabilia—the murderous Talky Tina doll from The Twilight Zone, rows of old VHS tapes labeled “Midnight Movies,” a Six Million Dollar Man board game, assorted Godzillas. But if you look closely (we looked closely) you will see a meticulous­ness to the madness: The props and tchotchkes are all dust-free and carefully arranged. Those vintage 1970s Star Trekaction figures aren’t just sitting there. They’re posed. This stuff is well loved. It’s clear that in addition to being one of the most gifted movie directors in the world, somehow the heir apparent to both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Abrams is also a superfan.

That puts him in a precarious situation. He has inherited the one mega­franchise to rule them all. Sure, this won’t be the first time Abrams resurrects a beloved Enterprise. But … this is the saga. It’s one of the things that invented modern superfandom. And this is no reboot. With The Force Awakens, Abrams is marshaling the same actors, writers, designers, and even the same composer to reanimate the char­acters and themes that made the original Star Wars into, well, Star Wars. He loves those movies as much as you or any of your laser-brained friends do. But when he first met those movies he was just an apprentice. Now he must become the master.

No pressure, right? After all, the stakes are merely the future of the franchise that made Abrams a filmmaker; a mythology held precious by millions of people for four decades; and, oh, right, billions and billions of dollars in movies and merch over the next half century (at least). I sat down with Abrams to ask him about balancing these competing (ahem) forces to tell an epic story from a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away. The lightsabers are drawn; the coordi­nates for the jump to hyperspace are calculated. Can Abrams do it? Well, you know what Yoda said about merely trying.

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http://www.wired.com/2015/11/star-wars-force-awakens-jj-abrams-interview/

Student protestors at the University of Missouri want a “no media safe space” – Updated by Libby Nelson on November 9, 2015, 7:30 p.m. ET


Members of the Concerned Student 1950 movement speak to students after president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation. — (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The media flocked to cover football players at the University of Missouri protest the handling of racial incidents on campus, but some of the student protesters balked at the influx — going so far as to form a human shield to keep reporters away from the action.

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Traditionally, protesters might have welcomed coverage of their plight, certain that the national media’s attention would amplify their calls and put more pressure on the institution.

There are many reasons for this. The students already accomplished their landmark goal — these tweets were sent after university president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation on Monday. The campus has seen dozens, if not hundreds, of reporters descend, most of them, like the national media, overwhelmingly white. And these students have come of age after the rise of digital organizing. The national media is just another institution they don’t need, as the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery points out:

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The standoff appears to have caught many members of the national media, as well as student journalists at the university, off guard.

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http://www.vox.com/2015/11/9/9701376/missouri-protests-media

Rubio and Cruz See Spike in Attention – By JANET HOOK Nov. 8, 2015 5:30 a.m. ET


After standout performances in Colorado, candidates see rise in donations and poll standings

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are two of the Republican presidential candidates that have gained the most traction following last month’s debate.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are two of the Republican presidential candidates that have gained the most traction following last month’s debate. PHOTO: CHRIS CARLSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two of the presidential candidates who gained the most traction out of the last Republican debate are a pair of 44-year-old Cuban-Americans who are first-term U.S. senators.

There the similarity ends, and their differences define a fork in the road for the Republican Party.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, after standout performances at the debate in Colorado last month, have both seen a spike in media attention, donations and poll standings. But they are appealing to very different wings of the GOP electorate, with Mr. Cruz rallying anti-Washington conservative forces and Mr. Rubio drawing strength from to the party’s business-friendly establishment wing.

Their differences of both style and substance will surface again Tuesday in the third GOP debate in Milwaukee, where both senators will try to keep the momentum going in a forum focusing on economic issues.

Mr. Cruz rails against illegal immigrants; Mr. Rubio takes a more welcoming approach. Mr. Cruz opposed President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade bill; Mr. Rubio supported it. Mr. Cruz traffics in the highflying oratory of an evangelical minister’s son; Mr. Rubio’s brand of eloquence is more low key.

Both senators still trail the political novices— Donald Trump and Ben Carson—who lead the GOP field. But the Cruz-Rubio surge raises a surprising prospect: Two Cuban Americans are moving from long-shot to top-tier candidates in a party that has struggled to win support from Hispanic voters.

Mr. Cruz said it was “plausible” that the primary would wind up being a Rubio-Cruz face off, citing the history of GOP contests that pitted a conservative against a more moderate candidate.

“I think Marco is certainly formidable,” Mr. Cruz said. But, he added, ”once it gets down to a head-to-head contest between a conservative and a moderate…I think the conservative wins.”

A super PAC supporting Mr. Cruz took off the gloves last week in an ad in Iowa that attacked Mr. Rubio for his record on immigration.

“We all loved how Marco Rubio took apart Jeb Bush in the debate,” says the narrator of an ad from the pro-Cruz PAC, Courageous Conservatives. “But what’s Rubio ever done?…Marco Rubio looks good on TV, but that’s about it.’’

That is a change in rhetoric from a major Senate debate in 2013—the filibuster to block funding for Obamacare—when Mr. Cruz showered his colleague with praise. “I don’t know if there is anyone more effective, more articulate, or a more persuasive voice for conservative principles than my friend Marco Rubio,” Mr. Cruz said.

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