Republicans Avoid You Tube Debate

The CNN/You Tube debate has sparked more controversy than any other Democratic debate. No wonder most of the Republicans want no part of it. So far only Ron Paul and John McCain are willing to attend. I never doubted that Ron Paul would attend as such a format plays to his strengths and, agree or disagree with him, he  shows the guts to defend his views. It also makes little sense for an underdog to give up such a chance to shake up the race, which would also explain why McCain is also willing to attend. He might also hope that a good answer to an odd ball question could help restore his lost reputation as a straight talker.

The most likely explanation is that the Republican candidates, who promote a world view which is counter to fact, have far more to risk than the Democrats in facing unpredictable questions. Instead the Republicans limit themselves to safe events where the questions are predictable.

While this is the safer move, it could backfire by giving the impression that Republicans are out of touch with modern technology, reminiscent of when George Bush Sr. was amazed by a supermarket scanner, as well as out of touch with the young. This is especially a problem in light of the latest Democracy Corps poll showing  erosion of support for the Republicans among the young. On the other hand, maybe they are wise to stay away considering the antipathy of the young towards the war and the religious right.

Unsurprisingly, the liberal blogosphere is in agreement in knocking the Republicans on their unwillingness to participate. Josh Marshall mocks a Republican line in asking, “if they can’t face Youtube how can they defeat the terrorists?”

Reaction among conservative bloggers is mixed, with not all defending the GOP candidates.  Patrick Ruffini writes:

This is a big mistake. The Democrats are afraid to answer questions from Big Bad Fox News Anchors, and the Republicans are afraid to answer questions from regular people. Which is worse?

It’s stuff like this that will set the GOP back an election cycle or more on the Internet. No matter the snazzy Web features and YouTube videos they may put up, if they’re fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with real people online, what’s the point?

Having spent the better part of a decade working at the intersection of politics and the Web, I can’t help but feel of a deep, deep sense of dismay that we’re missing something so basic. This is EXACTLY why I am afraid that we will be outraised by $100 million or more in 2008.

Yes, some of the questions on Monday were trivial. Yes, they were partisan. (I expect many of the 9/17 questioners to be partisan Republicans.) Yes, they were messy. But so is democracy. And the fact that some place so much faith in the broken mainstream media over a benign format like this one says a lot about the difficult straits the Republicans are in right now.

Ruffini does briefly mention the weak defense some Republicans are giving in falsely equating the You Tube debate with the decision of the Democrats to boycott debates hosted by Fox. The Democratic decision has nothing to do with being afraid of the questions, which are likely to be as predictable as any media questions. The Democrats have declined to debate on Fox to avoid giving it legitimacy as a news organization in light of their history of reporting on such events by distorting the views of the Democrats while claiming to be providing fair and balanced coverage. As Fox does not live up to basic standards of journalism, they should not be treated as journalists or a news outlet. The CNN YouTube debate might not fit traditional models of journalism, but at least it does what it claims to do, in contrast to Fox.


  1. 1
    Eric Dondero says:

    CNN does not live up to basic standards of journalism. It is more like the Communist/Clinton News Network. They are so left they’re off the charts.

    Why would any Republican in their right mind have anything to do with the Communists at CNN? I applaud them for boycotting this Fascist America-hating Network.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Only a far right wing extremist would consider CNN to be far left. Wolf Blitzer and Glen Beck are communists. While CNN was liberal (hardly far left) in its early years, they took a lunge to the right, probably to compete with Fox in recent years.

    That is not to say I place CNN in the same category as Fox. There is a difference between having a conservative bias, such as at CNN, and totally ignoring journalistic principles to promote a particular political party, such as at Fox.

  3. 3
    Bill O. Rights says:

    Ron Paul is so dominant in YouTube that Giuliani and Romney are scared of the home court advantage Ron Paul would have. In short, they are cowards. Glad to see McCain has some courage.

    Of the Republican candidates, Ron Paul is 1st in YouTube, Meetup, MySpace, Technorati, Alexa, Google, etc. The old media is just too slow to realize what is happening.

    Ron Paul places 1st or 2nd in every straw poll, debate, and active participation survey.

    Dr. Ron Paul has the most contributions from U.S. military personnel & veterans above all other candidates. So support the troops and vote Ron Paul!

    Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were doing about the same in the ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage in their elections. ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage only measure name recognition. Over the next six months Ron Paul will gain name recognition. Most people who learn about Ron Paul become major supporters.

    70% of Americans want us out of Iraq and want change.

    Ron Paul is only republican candidate against the war.

    Ron Paul only needs about 30% vote from republicans sick of the war and abuse of powers to win in republican primaries.

    Dr. Ron Paul is the man of integrity and courage that America needs at this time.

    “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” John Quincy Adams

    We are making history – Vote Ron Paul!

    Visit YouTube and search Ron Paul to learn more…

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Not only is Romney a coward, he doesn’t understand what You Tube is, considering his statements quoted in the press yesterday where he confused You Tube with MySpace.

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