"Please let me make my point"

Bruce Bartlett via Daniel Drezner:

My point is a plea to news bookers and producers: Please let me make my point. Have the reporter or anchor ask what they please. But don’t force me to engage in an artificial debate just to create “fireworks.” And if I must debate someone, please make it someone of equal stature to myself. I was once forced to debate the minimum wage with an actual, honest-to-God homeless person. I refused to ever appear on that cable channel again, despite many requests. Thankfully, this channel no longer exists.

Although I haven’t discussed this matter with friends in the Washington policy community, I am sure most — if not all — would agree with me. I suspect that it is why it is less and less common to see widely respected policy people on cable news programs and why one more and more often sees total nobodies labeled as “consultantsâ€? to one party or the other. Such people know absolutely nothing except how to memorize talking points and disagree vigorously with their opponent, regardless of the facts or logic of the case. I don’t see how this does anything to enhance public discourse or even attract viewers.

The fact is — and everyone knows this — that few issues are black-and-white. There are always nuances that are impossible to discuss in a debate format. But the debate format creates the illusion that there is always a simple answer to every complex problem and encourages average television viewers to assume that those of us in the Washington policymaking community are all idiots totally beholden to our party, without a lick of common sense or integrity.

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