Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nine months later

According to Yahoo News:

John McCain and Barack Obama have agreed to hold three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate this fall, the campaigns said in a joint statement Thursday that outlined formats, dates and locations.

The Commission on Presidential Debates will sponsor the events.

Technically true, I suppose, but awfully misleading. Those debates have actually been scheduled since at least November 19, 2007:

Paul G. Kirk, Jr. and Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., co-chairmen of the non-partisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates ("CPD" or "the Commission") today announced dates, sites and formats of three presidential and one vice presidential debates for the 2008 general election. The dates and sites are:

First presidential debate:
Friday, September 26
University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 2
Washington University in St. Louis, MO

Second presidential debate:
Tuesday, October 7
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

I’m uncomfortable with the way Yahoo presented this because it makes it sound like McCain and Obama sat down, put their heads together, and came up with this wonderful schedule to help us all choose wisely. In fact, they simply agreed to debates that have been scheduled for nine months. That’s not news - or at least not the news Yahoo is reporting.

It makes me wonder whether - if one of the candidates had opted out of the scheduled debates - we would ever had heard about that or if we would simply have heard that the candidates had been unable to come to an agreement on debate dates or formats.

There is one bit of actual new news in the Yahoo article. For the September 26 debate, the candidates will stand at podiums rather being seated at a table with the moderator as the CPD planned. I’d love to know which candidate insisted on that change.

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