Thomas Sowell

Not all interviewers are like the media hosts who conducted the first two candidate "debates." Interviewers like Brian Lamb or Charlie Rose -- people who try to bring out what the person who is being interviewed has to say, rather than trying to trap them with "gotcha" questions -- could get a lot of useful information out of a candidate in an hour.

That would leave the public with something to really think about, rather than just some catchy words and emotional phrases. We might even elect a president who knows what he is talking about, instead of someone with a talent for using rhetoric and striking poses.

How can we get away from the straitjacket of the current media "debate" format?

That format may serve the interests of the media by producing a fast-paced program, covering every candidate with even a remote chance of winning. But it does not serve the interest of the political party whose candidates are all diminished by being displayed in such large numbers, including many who are obviously just along for the ride, and in a setting where their attacks on each other turn them into a circular firing squad.

Either each political party can refuse to sanction "debates" in this format or the leading contenders can refuse to take part. Viable candidates are going to get covered in the media, whether they are part of a cattle show or not -- and focussing on viable candidates can end the time-wasting distraction of the also-rans.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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