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David Brooks loves ABC News Debate Questions

David Brooks, New York Times columnist, under a condescending column headline reading: No Whining About the Media, writes:

First, Democrats, and especially Obama supporters, are going to jump all over ABC for the choice of topics: too many gaffe questions, not enough policy questions.

I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that…

Here is my favorite part, Brooks writes:

We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues.

Hey David, you forgot to mention that while H. W. Bush was touring the flag factories during the 1988 election the Republicans were also running the racist Willie Horton ads. In fact, it was exactly the very trivia and sleaze that David Brooks thinks is good journalism that led to the public or civic journalism movement. Here is what Charlotte Grimes wrote in a Harvard public policy paper:

The defining event for civic journalism is usually pinned to the 1988 presidential campaign, with its fixation on horse-race polls and focus on Gary Hart’s adultery, George Bush’s visits to flag factories and Willie Horton ads, and Michael Dukakis’ ride in a tank. The campaign was a triumph of trivia, sleaze and manipulation. And it provoked an outburst of soul-searching by many journalists on their role in it.

Apparently it caused no soul searching for David Brooks — he thinks manipulative questions are good journalism. He can make his elitist, well-mannered argument, but on this one I am siding with  my wife, who during the “symbolic issues” questioning Brooks describes above, was screaming: Haven’t they heard how many people died in Iraq today? Ask a question about that. Haven’t they heard how many people are losing their homes today? Ask about that.

David, maybe you haven’t heard, the American people are tired of the trivia oriented, sleazy and manipulative political maneuvering, which you so politely call “symbolic issues.”

Of course, David Brooks, who has sided with the current administration on so many bad policy decisions, would prefer that the real issues get ignored. So David let me ask you a symbolic issues question: Which is more important an American flag lapel pin or the 4,000 plus flag-draped caskets that have come back to America from the Iraq war which you supported? Apparently in a debate you think the former is more important, my wife thinks the latter and so do I and so do most other Americans.

2 Responses to “David Brooks loves ABC News Debate Questions”

  1. Moderation « extensions Says:

    [...] the Code, is what seems to me to be paramount here. Leonard Witt, at the Public Journalism Network, comments on this, referencing something Brooks mentions, a tour of flag factories during Bush v. Dukakis: [...]

  2. Sal Says:

    Brooks writes, “We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall.”

    Now with so many other issues pressing our nation why would this crap be an issue in the fall? Because the Republicans make them issues and the media just follows like lemmings? The Republicans know if they engage the Dems in an issues debate they will and should lose. Instead, the same spineless media that failed to question our Iraq invasion plans now fails to question our political system. Thanks Brooks, thanks alot.