Monthly Archives: September 2015

Stop letting the news media pick candidates

September 21, 2015

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.


I do not think it is any great revelation that I am a registered Republican. I hold strong to the concept of the Republican Party, but the problem is that is seems more and more to be just that – a concept. I am getting more than a little fed up with the non-action of those who were elected to take action.

The leadership in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate leaves a lot to be desired and the Republican National Committee is failing on behalf of all Republicans right now. When is the RNC going to stand up and put a stop to allowing the news media to choose their candidates?

These so-called debates are good examples of how the Republicans are running scared and failing to be a political party. These over rated get-togethers are not debates; they are news media events and nothing more. Debates do not have news reporters asking questions. That scenario takes place every day on various news outlets and in the printed media every day.

I know it takes a long time, but even a cursory review of what happened in 1858 would be a good thing for the people in charge of the RNC. It should be a required activity for every national level candidate.

In 1858 Stephen A. Douglas was solidly planted in his seat in as one of the two U.S. Senators from the state of Illinois. Abraham Lincoln was attempting to unseat Douglas and what ensued has become a national historical treasure. Lincoln lost the election, but anyone familiar with the story behind the story knows that the series of seven debates between Lincoln and Douglas put Lincoln on a certain path to the presidency.

The debates took place between August 21, 1858 and October 15, 1858. Because of the technology available to us today, anyone can read the transcripts of those debates. Some of us who had the privilege of being in a school where we learned things and schools that had active speech and drama curricula, actually had to study what happened during those debates.

There were no news media asking loaded questions, although there were a few interruptions from spectators (there were from 1,500 to 15,000 people at each of the debates). Basically, one candidate opened the debate with a one-hour address. His opponent then had 30 minutes to respond. Accusations flew and fingers were pointed, but at the end of the debate the observers knew more about their candidate than they did when it started. Those were debates.

Today, one of the most active youth organizations in the country is the FFA. They have a speech and debate program that is amazing. Although I never was part of the FFA I certainly was subject once to their well-organized efforts in a debate. I suggest that the RNC contact the national organization of the FFA and have an RNC-sponsored debate with someone from the FFA serving as a moderator.

In my scenario, the news media would be invited to attend, observe and report; nothing more. They would not be given time during the debate to address the candidates. Interviews and Q&A by the media would be done on their time after the debate concluded. In order to facilitate a large number of candidates the RNC could run the thing like a tournament with FFA judges. They can work out the details. In short, if we are going to have Republican debates they should be run by Republicans, ditto for the Democrats. Let the news media do their job and be reporters, not part of the process.

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© Robert R. Cox 2015