Saturday, May 13, 2023

Make It a Positive

From the world of mathematics: -3 X +3= -9;  -3 X -3= +9.

Beginning at 1:06 of the tweet/video below,  Anderson Cooper states

Now, many of you think CNN shouldn't have given him any platform to speak and I understand the anger about that- giving him the audience, the time- I get that. But this is what I also get. The man you were so disturbed to see and hear from last night? That man is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President and according no polling, no other Republican is even close.

Once CNN announced it was going to hold a town hall with former President Trump, many people complained that he was offered any airtime at all. However, following the performance- uh, er, event- the nature of the criticism shifted.

Cooper continues

That man you wee so upset to hear from last night, he may be the President of the United States in less than two years. And that audience that upset you? That's a sampling of about half the country and they are your family members, your neighbors, and they are voting. And many say they are voting for him.

I'd like to believe that if Cooper had proofread or, prior to airing the segment, had read aloud his commentary, he would have realized how absurd the third sentence immediately above is. (Hopefully, that's what Sullivan was applying the adjective "silly" to.)

It was not "a sampling of about half the country." It was a sampling- presumably, that- of the roughly half the country which will vote for Trump or seriously consider voting for him. It was not representative of the country, which includes the nearly 50% which would walk over burning coals before rather than vote for him. CNN selected Republicans and Independents for its audience while omitting Democrats. Some cross-sample.

Concluding, Cooper remarks

Now, maybe you haven't been paying attention to him since he left office, maybe you've been enjoying not hearing from him, thinking that can't happen again, some investigation is going to stop him. Well, it hasn't so far. So if last night showed anything, it showed it can happen again. It is happening again. He hasn't changed and he is running hard. You have every right to be outraged today and be angry and never watch this network again. But do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away?

It won't make him go away. We all know that because we've all been paying attention to him since he left office as he is in the news every (every) day. Moreover, we all realize that he may be elected President again because we know he is the odds-on favorite to win the nomination of his decadent party. And a couple of days before the townhall event, we learned from The Washington Post, which teams with ABC News on its surveys

When asked who they would support in 2024, 44 percent of voting-age adults say they would "definitely" or "probably" vote for Trump while 38 percent would definitely or probably vote for Biden. The remaining 18 percent are either undecided or gave another answer.

The typically reliable New York Times noted "critics of the poll disparaged it for including all adults in its sample of 1,006, rather than just registered voters."  The typically unreliable CNN and MSNBC (probably also Fox News, though I wouldn't know) omitted from its breathless headline and explanation the four words "of voting-age adults."  The poll was trash and obviously so, yet bolstered the credibility of the leading candidate, whose detractors have argued that unlike other possible GOP nominees, he cannot possibly be elected.

Cooper addressed the opposition of some individuals- overtaken in the aftermath of the event itself- to Trump being given any platform. However, as details about the event trickle out afterward, it should become clear that the problem lay not in the platform but in the nature of the platform. Ever since these "town halls" became a thing, candidates and other politicians have been able to manipulate the forum for their own advantage. The CNN occasion was particularly bad because, unlike most of these shows, opponents of the official were deliberately excluded and the audience was given special instructions. Salon explains

Republican political consultant Matthew Bartlett told Puck's senior political correspondent, Tara Palmeri, that while many members of the audience applauded the former president, "there were also people that sat there quietly disgusted or bewildered," estimating that the audience was split in half.

"The floor manager came out ahead of time and said, Please do not boo, please be respectful. You were allowed to applaud," Bartlett said. "And I think that set the tone where people were going to try their best to keep this between the navigational beacons, and that if they felt compelled to applaud, they would, but they weren't going to have an outburst or they weren't going to boo an answer."  

Nonetheless, there is a possible silver lining to the CNN travesty. Before there is a general election season, there is a primary season.  Aside from Trump, there currently are three candidates- Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, and Vivek Ramaswamy- for the GOP presidential nomination. Each of the three should be given the same courtesy as was given the ex-President. Each could be granted a town hall meeting with Republicans and Independents; no Democrats need apply. The ground rules should be the same, including Kaitlan Collins as the moderator and booing discouraged. As more candidates emerged, they should be extended the same privilege by CNN.

If this were to transpire, one or more of the candidates would benefit more than Donald Trump did or could have hoped to. Trump is a known commodity. The cake is baked, with virtually everyone having a strong opinion of a fellow  whose floor is high and ceiling, low. Not so with the other candidates, who would be given a chance to shine (or flame out).

Two wrongs, some would say, do not make a right. In this case, multiplication of negative numbers is a much more applicable analogy. A negative number is a negative number, yet when it is multiplied by another negative number, a positive number results.

Give them all (and every declared Democratic presidential nominee) a shot. CNN's Chris Licht may decide not to do this and instead declare that he has learned from his error(s) or give another other excuse for not doing what is right. But beware. As he has done for one, he must do for all or face the charge- justified- that he's in the tank for Donald J. Trump.

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