Short Circuit News Wire

Diverting the Main Stream

McCain To Debate: Did CNN Know?

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Although I generally like to write about topics which are underreported or not reported at all in the English-speaking press, if I’m not mistaken, this time I’ve got something which hasn’t been reported at all. So here it is, Short Circuit News Wire Breaking News:

CNN International Advertised Debate While McCain Claimed Intention Not to Participate

CNN’s international news channel has been advertising the debate multiple times per day, despite the fact that John McCain had officially suspended his campaign and stated that he would not be debating until “we have taken action to address this crisis”, referring to the Bush administration’s proposal to divert $700 billion of public funding into the failed predatory lending market.

While there are a few dissenters, the figure is agreed upon on both sides of the aisle. There are disagreements as to the specifics of the deal, but our representatives in Washington have pretty much agreed that we’re giving away $700 billion to these charlatans. I’m by no means convinced that this is necessary or proper to do. I find it hard to imagine that allowing these businesses to fall, or finding a solution which does not cost public funds or costs us less, will have repercussions costing more than $700 billion to resolve. I especially find it hard to swallow the Republican party line on this one when they’ve been denying the recession which has been commonly accepted to already be in place for months or years, and U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is warning that without the bailout we will enter a recession.

I’m happy to report that I’m not the only one who isn’t taking this for granted. Internetland is full of opinion writers, economists, and politicians who are stating their disagreement for a number of reasons, some of them saying we should be helping the people affected by the economic crisis, others saying that without resolving the underlying economic problems of our nation, this is just throwing money away and conserving the overly permissive environment for fishy business. Once again, in this matter Ralph Nader provides the leadership that the two-party system does not.

McCain’s strategy has always been to appeal to the undecided voters while letting Sarah Palin take over the job of energizing the right. McCain is trying to make himself look like he’s “bipartisan” and “above politics”. During the debate tonight, look for insinuations of, but probably not any direct mention of, Barack Obama’s lack of patriotism or inability to put “country first” and act in a bipartisan manner. McCain suspended his campaign and proposed to postpone the presidential debate until he could go to Washington to do his job as Senator, and while his hardcore supporters may be teary-eyed with pride over their candidate’s integrity, I think most people see this as a political move. The idea is certainly prominent.

McCain’s decision to take part in the debate was supposedly made not as a response to the widespread calls for discussion, Obama stating that with so many problems, a debate is more important now than ever, but because “enough progress” had been made on passing the bailout bill to justify his leaving Washington to participate. The wording of his announcement was perhaps vague enough to justify this decision without “flip-flopping” (I hate this term) but his words were: “We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.” Depending on whether you see “taking action” as having a discussion on the matter or whether you see it as actually passing, presenting, or agreeing on legislation, McCain’s work here may or may not be done, but whatever his criteria were, they were met in time for today’s debate.

CNN International has been advertising the debate as going forward even while reporting that McCain was not planning to participate. I don’t know if other news channels were doing the same; I’m in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the only English language news channels I have are CNN International and BBC International, so I would be interested in hearing from my nonexistent readers whether the news stations they watch have been advertising the debate or not.

CNN International may have been running these commercials for any one of three reasons: First, they could simply not have had time to change their commercial programming. Second, it could have been a gamble. They could have been hoping the debate would take place, and made the decision to continue running the commercials. Third, they may have known that McCain was going to show up. I am planning on emailing them and asking.

I’m a bit uneasy with these possibilities. Advertising a debate when you don’t know whether it will take place or not seems like an odd thing to do, and if it didn’t take place, I don’t know how it would make CNN International look to its viewers if they tuned in at the scheduled time and found no debate. It seems less than professional to me.

I’m also willing to entertain the idea that CNN and other news organizations may have been in on McCain’s media stunt. Obviously when someone talks to you off the record, or if there’s some kind of open secret, it’s not necessarily appropriate to report on it, but if you have inside information and advertise an event knowing it will take place, when the candidate involved is attempting to build expectation by claiming he may not show up, and at the same time contributing to this buildup of expectation by reporting the uncertainty as to whether the event will take place or not, represents, in my opinion, a lack of journalistic integrity. Journalists do have to follow certain rules of etiquette when dealing with important newsmakers in order to stay in the business and keep the contacts they need, but this is playing along too much and borders on conspiracy.

Another quick note on whether McCain’s story is consistent, CNN has reported that “John McCain has said he will not attend unless Congress passes bailout bill” in the story highlights for this news item. I don’t know if that’s a mistake on their part or if somewhere in the mess of interviews and press releases and stories, McCain or someone from the McCain campaign has defined having “taken action”.

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Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

September 26, 2008 at 8:44 pm

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