Last night, CBS hosted a debate for the Republican candidates for president. They scheduled it for 90 minutes…
And then cut to a rerun after the first hour. Those who wanted to keep watching were left to go online to catch the streaming video…
Which promptly crashed from the traffic.
This makes it clear: the debate was not a priority for CBS. They asked to host it, then treated the event — and the candidates — like the kind of stuff you scrape off your shoe.
This reminded me of a President Bush news conference back in 2005. After half an hour, three of the big four networks carrying it live switched over to their regularly-scheduled shows. NBC, CBS, and Fox all dumped Bush for their entertainment shows; only ABC kept it rolling.
At that time, I made a few suggestions on how the Bush White House should respond. In a similar spirit, I have a few recommendations for how the Republican campaigns (especially those of Gingrich and Bachmann — they seem the most likely to take on CBS over this slight) ought to respond.
- Inform CBS what their credentialed staff has been cut by one-third.
- Exclude CBS from one-third of campaign events.
- Ask the CBS correspondents to leave 2/3 of the way through events.
- Stop answering CBS correspondents’ questions in the middle of a sentence. “Well, Peter, I think we ought to take a long look at the bottom line in that area, and then make some dramatic — next question?”
The particulars of the actions don’t matter. What matters is to notify CBS — and the rest of the legacy media — that we don’t need you any more. You are no longer as important and essential and powerful as you once were. Conservatives are learning that there are many ways to get their message out without the blessing of the mainstream media. And they certainly aren’t shackled by the traditional media-designed and run “debates,” as Cain and Gingrich proved.
The one thing the candidates can not do is let this slight go unanswered.