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Arment Dietrich

Who Is Advancing Their Interests?

By: Arment Dietrich | December 17, 2007 | 
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An interesting and thought provoking article appeared December 1, 2007 in the L.A. Times. The article explored Tim Rutten’s thoughts regarding CNN and the most recent debate among the Republican Candidates seeking their party’s Presidential nomination. CNN hosted the debate and partnered with YouTube, using questions submitted to the video sharing website. Rutten asserts CNN did its viewers a great disservice in the way they handled the debate and selecting the questions posed to the candidates. You can read the entire article here.

In my view, Rutten makes an odd point. I agree with him CNN cast aside the issues most important to the majority of Americans, instead focusing on less important issues.  Where I disagree with Rutten is in the reason he believes this happened. He says CNN “directed the Republicans’ debate to advance its own interests.” In essence, creating a spectacle to increase ratings. I have a different opinion.

I think CNN chose the questions it did to better meet the needs of Republican primary voters trying to decide which candidate to support in the primaries, instead of those issues important to the majority of Americans. It was not about spectacle, or advancing any personal interests, but about educating Republicans about their choices for their presidential candidate in 2008.

Rutten uses spin to persuade others to share his point of view, thus making him correct by consensus. He speculates and surmises, using data carefully picked to illustrate his point. Nowhere in his article does he offer data about the issues important to the majority of Republicans, only to the American people as a whole. He then uses Republican specific responses to these questions. The logic behind his is sketchy at best. This tactic is usually called spinning by omission.

What Rutten should have done was examine the issues most important to republicans, or ask CNN their reasons for conducting the debate in the manner they did. Instead, he calls CNN “corrupt” and questions “whether CNN is ethically or professionally suitable to play the political role the Democratic and Republican parties recently have conceded it.”  Taking a look at the bigger picture, who do you think is advancing their own interests?  — Morgan Smith

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