You know the mainstream media's power exceeds its sound judgment and responsible stewardship when it abuses its control of a presidential debate to further its own ends rather than that of the public it purports to serve.
Based on the account by Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, when 10 ABC News staffers met to draft questions for the upcoming Democratic presidential debate, ABC honchos were concerned not with advancing the public's knowledge of the candidates and their positions, but with their own ratings. How could they stir things up enough to stimulate viewership? At best, the public's edification would be an accidental byproduct.
So they decided they would get away from policy questions "that had bored viewers to tears in the previous debates." How would they do that? Well, by focusing on Howard Dean, and asking the other candidates why Dean is beating their socks off.
So what, you say? Well, it's just interesting to note the disconnect between the liberal media's stated mission: to inform the public, and their actions. Mainstream journalists consider it their hallowed mission, a sacred duty, a noble calling.
If you've been around these types, you've doubtlessly seen the sanctimonious air about them. They tell you that nothing is more important than providing the public with every morsel they deem fit for its consumption without regard for anything else, including personal privacy or sometimes even national security.
Yet these people (ABC) -- righteously dedicated to furthering the public's right to know -- embarked upon a course designed to stir controversy and ratings while doing nothing to contribute to the public's edification on the candidates' policy positions, or presidential abilities or character. (I realize I already said this above, but I like this wording better, so back off.)
Well, I haven't heard about the ratings, but Koppel's questions did generate some fireworks -- mostly directed back at him, and to some extent, at Al Gore, for heretically endorsing outsider Dean.
So I guess ABC is happy, even if its venerated Ted Koppel did take a deserved shot or two. But the public has learned nothing from the debate, except perhaps that Al Sharpton might be better suited for stand-up comedy and that Dennis Kucinich, despite his manifest lack of gravitas, is better on his feet and feistier than at least seven of the nine dwarfs.