The political bloggers and internet news outlets are in a frenzy once again. Imagine that. There seems to be a bit of a flurry in the digital dovecote over the phrase “whip out that Mexican thing” in an election season that’s already overpopulated with gaffes. But that’s not what should stand out to viewers. The most important thing said during the debate was uttered by neither potential VP, and it was actually said before the debate even began. Those who tuned in early would have heard the following from the co-chair of the organization hosting the debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates:
“[The Commission on Presidential Debates] is a nonpartisan private organization. We get no money from political parties, no money from the candidates, no money from the government…We’re privately funded. We’re funded by a number of corporations…Anheuser-Busch…the Howard G. Buffet Foundation…the National Governors Association…the AARP.”
Apparently, one can boast about not taking money from the government as avoiding bias, but somehow being bought by business and special interests imparts neutrality. Do we suddenly not think that funding frames the issues? Why would one take these things at face value when they arise from such crooked timber? No, that’s not a genetic fallacy or Bulverism, it’s denying unjustified appeals to authority without first being given the facts necessary for justification. Fact finding takes time, but it can be done. But that’s the point – it takes time. Considering all the tiring things that need to be done during the day, a low priority is inevitably given to working on an independent research project and so the however-long-and-intricate-you-want-to-make-it-industrial-complex wins yet again.
Still, one can (justifiably) argue that there is no such thing as neutrality, only transparency. Even so, this format is not the way to go about it. A real debate would involve the possibility of opposition being confronted and beaten. That can’t happen when you control the audience’s behavior, the moderator’s questions, and broadcast simultaneously. You can talk about Search Engine Manipulation Effect and other hypothetical situations all you want, but you need not go any farther than what is already being said in broad daylight.
The overt determines the Overton window. There’s no need for conspiracies when interests align. If you acknowledge this, simply shrug your shoulders, and claim defeatism in the face of an imperfect world, then the-powers-that-be have gotten what they’ve wanted all along. It doesn’t matter if you’re “wise enough” to “get it”, or that you think you’re “on to them.” They don’t care about your motivations so long as you act towards the desired goal.
If you’re paying attention, this should motivate you the other way instead.