Friday, October 01, 2004

Bias in Debate Questions?

I didn't see the debate, but N. Z. Bear makes a good case that the questions were biased against Bush:

So: 17 questions in all, 1 one of which I (generously) call as biased against Kerry, 10 neutral ones, and six biased against Bush. That's not a neutral playing field, folks, that's what we call in the biz, "statistically significant."

A few suggestions on how it could have been better:

- Why were there no questions about the benefits of a free Iraq? Suggestion: "Senator Kerry, you've focused on disarming Saddam Hussein, and have argued that there were ways to do that other than war. But would simply disarming Iraq yield the same benefits as deposing Saddam entirely?"

- Why no questions on Senator Kerry's record? There is an argument that it makes sense to focus on the incumbents' record in a debate like this, but I don't buy that. This isn't a referendum on Bush. It is a choice between two men applying for the job, and the questions should have focused equally on each man's qualifications and record.

- Why no questions on any foreign policy items except Iraq and terrorism? This isn't really a bias issue, but even as a single-issue voter, I would have liked to have at least had a question or two on everything else going on in the world. (Okay, there was Darfur, but that was about it).
The entire post is worth reading for his question-by-question analysis. Knowing Jim Lehrer, I can't see how anyone would suppose that the questions wouldn't have been biased.

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