Friday, February 01, 2008

Biased Presidential Debate?

David Roberts of Gristmill wonders whether the fact that there were no questions about climate change in last night's Democratic presidential debate, sponsored by the group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), is a sign of bias or control over the journalistic debate process.

Matthew Yglesias repeats the speculation without question or investigation.

Roberts calls the ABEC a "front group" for the coal industry, and looking at their list of supporters, that seems pretty fair.

It doesn't, of course, imply any dishonesty, and a real journalist might have asked.

So I asked the ABEC: "When ABEC sponsors a presidential candidate debate, does it have any control over which questions are and aren't asked of the candidates?"

Here's the reply I received from Brad Jones, West Region Communications Director for ABEC:
Absolutely not.
As a matter of fact, we are hoping the candidates address energy policy, but they have not as of yet.

Our investment in the sponsorship is strictly used to help raise awareness around the important role coal plays in meeting our demand for electricity.

CNN makes the decisions as to what questions are asked.

You may be interested in a blog posting we developed in relation to that

I've also asked CNN the same question, but haven't received a response or not.

Maybe you believe them, maybe you don't. But at least they're on the record as denying any control over the debate content. And as far as I know, questions about global warming haven't come up at non-ABEC sponsored debates either.

The fact is, climate change isn't exactly very high on the MSM's mind. And in the polls I've seen, it barely registers on the minds of voters. Small wonder CNN didn't ask any questions about it.


MT said...

I thought I heard recently on public radio that "the environment" actually was the top concern of voters in the midwest farm states...for whatever that's worth.

Anonymous said...

This and other issues are ignored by these two major candidates, and that's why we need more choices in the election. The news media and the debate commissions continue to block other candidates out, and that is a gross injustice.

Neither of the major candidates will get us a sorely needed corporate crack-down, universal healthcare or a decisive move away from petroleum, not to mention many other problems they both ignore. I encourage everyone to investigate what's out there. I for one am supporting Ralph Nader, and one can find a wealth of information from him and his supporters at