CNN Scripts The Debate

In the days before the CNN/Rock the Vote Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate last week in Boston something gnawed at me: the whole event just seemed too contrived. Kerry, Lieberman, and Gephardt would be clearly out of their element, and with smarmy Anderson Cooper hyping the event it seemed that the news and entertainment divisions at TimeWarner were trying to out get the one up on MTV.

It turns out that it wasn’t just a gut feeling; the “hipness” was scripted by a CNN producer.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A college student who asked the Democratic presidential candidates at a debate whether they preferred the PC or Mac format for their computers says the question was planted by CNN.

The news network on Tuesday acknowledged that a producer went “too far” in telling Brown University student Alexandra Trustman what to ask.

CNN televised the debate, co-sponsored by the nonprofit Rock the Vote organization, last week. It was billed as an event geared to the interests of young people.

In an editorial written for the Brown Daily Herald, Trustman said she was called the morning of the debate and given the topic of the question CNN producers wanted her to ask.

Trustman said she was “confused by the question’s relevance,” and constructed her own question “about how, if elected, the candidates would use technology in their administrations.”

But when she arrived in Boston for the debate, Trustman wrote, “I was handed a note card with the Macs and PCs version of Clinton’s boxers or briefs question” and told she couldn’t ask her question “because it wasn’t lighthearted enough and they wanted to modulate the event with various types of questions.”

She referred to a 1992 student forum where Bill Clinton was asked what kind of underwear he preferred. Clearly they were hoping for a “boxer or briefs” moment. So much so that they manufactured it.

Infotainment strikes again!

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