Video: Glenn Reynolds and Ana Marie Cox on the CNN YouTube debate

They can go two ways with it — dry, serious queries on niche topics or self-consciously offbeat crap that showcases the “spirit of the Web.” Count on some of both. A teaser:

“There’s not going to be a foolish, gotcha question because we’re not out there to stump,” Bohrman said. “We’re out there to actually see how people who want to be president think and handle issues and questions and people that are slightly outside of their comfort zones.”

“There are questions that we, the journalists, we, the mainstream media, would never think to ask in the presidential debate,” Bohrman said.

It’ll be mighty interesting to see what sorts of questions qualify as ones CNN “would never think to ask.” It sounds like they’re setting it up to embarrass the candidates, which is exactly what they should do. The YouTube voice-of-the-people dynamic gives them perfect cover. They could float “I question the timing” questions about terror attacks, questions about whether the candidates are “troubled” by the extent of Israeli influence on the United States, etc etc, and shrug off the criticism on grounds that that’s what “the people” are interested it. Just one nutroots talking point after another, and if anyone calls them on it they’d simply point to the fact that YouTube skews hard left and call it a representative sample. Their one mistake was letting their own editors choose all of the questions instead of letting the ‘Tubers choose, say, a top ten. That would have let CNN have its cake by inserting some bona fide freak show material into the event and eat it too by disclaiming all responsibility for the choices of YouTube users. Call it an opportunity missed. After all, no one’s watching these things to hear the same canned policy answers they’ve heard before. It’s worthless political theater. Make them perform.

If they air a question from a Truther about 9/11, the whole experiment will have been worth it.

David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022