Anderson Cooper and David Bohrman on Picking YouTube Questions

Posted: Nov 27, 2007 11:20 AM
That's what my column's on today.

I had a chance to talk with both debate moderator Anderson Cooper and CNN D.C. Bureau Chief David Bohrman for a few minutes about their methods. Given the recent question-planting in Hillary’s campaign and CNN’s failure to disclose the affiliations of some of its “undecided voters” in the Democrat debate in Las Vegas, I had some concerns.

Read their answers, watch the debate, and decide if they delivered:

Q: There’s been a bit of scandal about the screening that CNN did on its “undecided voters” for the last Democratic debate. The diamonds-and-pearls question was attacked by the questioner herself. There were some allegations that several of the voters were in fact liberal activists on quite a few issues (and one Democratic Party operative). What’s the process for checking these YouTube questioners and their affiliations?

“Well, campaign operatives are people, too. We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions…that’s not our job. Last time around (in the Democrat CNN/YouTube debate), there were questions from Joe Biden’s campaign…and we had some fun with that (disclosing who they were posed by). Things like that are generally pretty obvious. In watching these videos after a while, you can kind of tell, who’s really serious about an issue and who’s just parroting a press release or a talking point.”

DB: “If it’s a loaded question, we’ll click back and check…some need vetting, and we’ll do that.”

“We’re doing the best we can…but if a question is interesting on its face, it almost doesn’t matter.”

Q: One of the criticisms the Right faces is it’s not active enough on the web, and to some extent, it’s true that websites like YouTube are populated by liberals. What provisions were made to make sure you get questions from the YouTube audience that conservatives care about?

“We got more than 4,000, so we certainly have a wide variety.”

DB: “I want it to be a Republican debate, focusing on issues that are important to Republican voters.”

“We’re looking for that. We are eliminating the obvious Democratic gotchas…the stink-bomb grenades…”

“There are plenty of conservative questions.”