The New York Times wants to improve the debates!

MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2020

Also, Gore refused to fight:
Now that the conventions are over, we're on the march toward the Trump-Biden debates.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran ten letters suggesting ways to improve this year's debate. The letters were offered in response to Michelle Cottle's essay, How to Improve the Debates, which ran in print editions on Tuesday, August 18.

Cottle in a member of the Times editorial board. In print editions, her essay ran in the place where editorials would normally appear. After reading yesterday's letters, we went back and read Cottle's essay, which we had widely skipped when it first appeared.

At this point, we'll admit it! We were drawn to the letters because of the way one letter-writer repeated one of our tribe's most treasured inaccurate claims. This is the latter in question:
To the Editor:

Standing on a debate stage in 2016, Hillary Clinton was answering a question posed by the moderator and suddenly realized that her opponent, Donald Trump, was prowling somewhere behind and near her. Why was the moderator missing in action when that intentional stalking by Mr. Trump to throw his opponent off stride was taking place?

In 2020 we can expect many diversions from Mr. Trump. There are some useful recommendations from the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Michelle Cottle’s piece. But while Annenberg recommends “cutting moderators out of the action as much as possible,” I believe that training for moderators in how to handle infractions should be required. We know what’s coming!
The letter came from a member of the Rockland County (N.Y.) Legislature. Another letter made reference to the same alleged event.

Candidate Trump stalked Candidate Clinton! It has become one of our most treasured tribal beliefs. Clinton advanced this fairy tale herself in her book about Campaign 2020.

This stalking incident is alleged to have happened during the second Trump-Clinton debate, the one with the town hall format. Our tribe is in love with this stalking claim—but no, it didn't actually happen, even though you've seen the damning photos.

You can see what actually happened starting around minute 24:45 in this videotape of the full debate. What actually happened is this:

On two successive questions, Clinton walked over in front of Trump's lectern. She did this in order to respond to questioners who were seated in that part of the room.

Trump was standing at his lectern, exactly as he should have been while Clinton spoke. But Clinton was now directly in front of his lectern. This created the camera angles which we the liberals, and Clinton herself, have now turned into a stalking incident.

We people hate to abandon pleasing beliefs even when the pleasing beliefs in question are false. Nothing will ever kill the pleasing claim, which plays into fundamental tribal verities of our majorly self-impressed tribe.

Still, if you want to see what actually happened, you can click to that videotape and watch the sequence of events as Clinton answers those two questions. Candidate Clinton did absolutely nothing wrong—but just to be honest for once, neither did Candidate Trump, though he behaved abysmally at other points that night. (For example, see his snarling, repetitive interruptions from minutes 22-25.)

Back to the crying need to pretend that the New York Times is looking for ways to "improve the debates:"

After being struck by the very few real suggestions offered in yesterday's ten (10) letters, we decided to read Cottle's original essay. Doing so brought a question to mind:

Has Michelle Cottle ever watched an actual general election debate? We'll tell you why we're asking that question in the next day or two. First, the meta-story:

Down through the years, we've often asked if members of our upper-end press corps could possibly be human. The strangeness of that Cottle essay raises the possibility, at least in our mind, that she isn't from Mississippi at all, but perhaps from Neptune or Mars.

Cottle's essay about the debates makes almost zero sense. And yet, she's a member in good standing of the Times editorial board, and the Times decided to run her puzzling essay in place of editorials.

There are obvious lessons to be learned from such a puzzling state of affairs. In a similar vein, we were struck by an array of comments from Times readers yesterday about the way the "pusillanimous" Candidate Gore "rolled over" and refused to "fight it out" in the aftermath of Election 2000.

(Gore's concession was finally delivered on Wednesday, December 13.)

Yesterday's puzzling comments came in response to one somewhat odd quoted remark in a thoroughly sensible essay about what could happen in the aftermath of this November's election.

The essay in question (Could It Be Bush v. Gore All Over Again?) was written by Linda Greenhouse. Her warnings about what could conceivably happen this fall are very much worth considering.

One quoted remark in the Greenhouse essay is slightly odd. The comments from an array of readers are basically stone-cold crazy. Regarding the commenters and their strange comments, there is again a lesson to be learned:

These are the scattered, puzzling troops with which our tribe marches to war.

As a group, we liberals have long been majorly self-impressed. We're convinced that we're the very smart ones, and that our newspaper is tops.

Anthropologists say it isn't our fault, but they say it's hard for us humans to see certain types of truths.

Over the course of the next few days, we'll show you the comments about the way Candidate Gore refused to fight. Also, we'll examine suggestions that Cottle may be phoning it in from Mars.

Has Cottle ever watched an actual general election debate? If she has, you'd never know it from the comments and criticisms she made in her essay.

She sits on the Times editorial board. But has she ever actually watched a general election debate?

23 comments:

  1. "In 2020 we can expect many diversions from Mr. Trump."

    We, personally, expect a fascist takeover, that was promised, repeatedly, by you, dear Bob. And no more Novembers evah.

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  2. "Clinton advanced this fairy tale herself in her book about Campaign 2020."

    Clinton was there and Somerby was not, but Somerby believes he knows what happened, with such certainty that he calls her version a "fairytale".

    Phooey

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hate these people and what they're doing to my country.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a ridiculous attack on Cottle based on nothing whatsoever. Somerby can have no knowledge with which to assert that she has not watched a debate:

    "She sits on the Times editorial board. But has she ever actually watched a general election debate?"

    He is manufacturing this out of thin air.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "We're convinced that we're the very smart ones..."

    Only compared to Somerby and his fellow Fox viewers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. “You can see what actually happened starting around minute 24:45 in this videotape of the full debate. What actually happened is this:

    On two successive questions, Clinton walked over in front of Trump's lectern. She did this in order to respond to questioners who were seated in that part of the room.”

    Who says that is the one and only moment in the debate that is an instance of Trump’s “stalking?” Certainly not Hillary.

    Look at the entire debate.

    Trump is like some feral animal, a caged baboon or musk ox. He never sits. When he is “answering” a question, Hillary is almost always seated in her chair.

    When she is answering, he continually fidgets and wanders around on stage, positioning himself so that he will appear to be looming behind her with his Mussolini face. Being a former TV personality, he understands camera angles and how to position himself to seem imposing.

    Ima go with Hillary on this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect Trump was fidgeting because he knew that he had lost the first debate, badly, and he would go on to lose the next too, badly. If this was a tactic, it didn't work. What was Trump supposed to do? Wander around on Hillary's side of the stage? That would have been criticized too.

      Delete
    2. He wasn’t wandering around helplessly. He positioned himself strategically to force himself into her shot. He could have chosen to remain seated, like Hillary.

      Delete
    3. I think he was going to look stupid in this format no matter what he did. I'm guessing his handlers told him to avoid that stool at all costs. Big guys look silly on a stool.

      Delete
    4. Upon further review, they both look pretty good. Hillary looks more personable because of better eye contact with the questioners. When Trump dispenses with that silly Clint Eastwood squint, he looks better. The whole debate is done in split screen so there's no point in Trump trying to get in someone's "shot." It looks like a simple fluke of where the questioner happened to be during a tiny fraction of the debate, not some evil strategy.

      Delete
    5. Trump was very aggressive in his words, attitude, and presence, enough so that it is obvious that his intent was intimidation. Clinton should have realized this and either stayed at her lectern or teased Trump about it in the moment. She was a milquetoast candidate.

      Trump made numerous false claims about Obamacare in the debate, and then as president, did not get rid of Obamacare or offer an alternative.

      Neither candidate looked good, but Clinton looks better today, and Trump looks so much worse.

      Delete
    6. You try sitting still when you're all jacked-up on Adderall.

      Delete
  7. It would be foolish to argue about whether Somerby is an expert on film doctoring, body language, or video technique, so that he would know whether or not Trump was deliberately pulling focus by moving around in Clinton's background. Trump would have some idea of that, having worked in Television, while Clinton would not. Upstaging an actor refers to moving in the audience's field of vision in order to pull attention while the other actor is speaking. Trump, upstage from Clinton, was sufficiently large to loom in the camera shot. I have seen several different version of the debate from different angles and I believe he was stalking her and was deliberately putting himself into the camera frame in order to upstage her, while he fiddled and moved while she was speaking. That she felt like he was looming over her (without seeing any TV monitor) suggests that he was standing close enough to her, behind her, to trigger that 6th sense all women have about men's proximity to them in public. The widespread comment on Trump's actions from a variety of sources suggest that it appeared that way to viewers all over the country, watching it on different channels (some with different cameras).

    Back when Somerby first complained about this, I did some research and found the versions where Trump appeared to be looming over Clinton and I also found some analyses from more technical sources than Somerby, and I posted them in comments. Somerby never reads his comments, so he has continued to hammer away at his preferred version of the story -- that Clinton and women in general are so attached to their belief that Trump was stalking Clinton during the debate that they won't let go of it, even when contradicted by ONE version of video -- the one that Somerby prefers, of course.

    Because that's how propaganda works. You find a tape or doctor one, showing the candidate you don't like looking weak or tired or grimacing or wearing old clothes or whatever, and you use that selected video as proof of whatever horrible thing you want to say about them.

    In this case, Somerby wants to say that Clinton was unfair to poor Mr. Trump, accusing him of something he didn't do (except everyone saw him do it) and Somerby uses the conservative manufactured explanation instead of listening to other opinions, to back up his complaint about Hillary (it isn't enough that she lost the election, not for Somerby). Because Somerby is now a propagandist with a chip on his shoulder about successful women and liberals.

    I doubt Somerby and Gore are even on speaking terms these days. I'll bet he hasn't seen Gore in years, maybe not since those good old college days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill cut science funding and Al want to waste money building a useless collider. Both are corporatist, capitalist neoliberals, both are better than any Republican, but not good for our country.

      Delete
  8. I seem to remember Al Gore "stalking" Bush by walking near or behind Bush while he was speaking. If that was an intentional tactic, it backfired. As I recall, Gore was widely criticized for "stalking".

    It seems unlikely that Trump have used a tactic that had been found to be counterproductive.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  10. of course !!!!!!!!!! just like bush versus gore EVERYBODY ELSE GOT IT WRONG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!Trump did NOT stalk Hillary - blogger's infinite wisdom says so.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_F_OSBAP8


    so eagerly waiting on blogger proving the innocence of poor,poor,poor Rittenhouse.

    ReplyDelete
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