October 04, 2004

And Speaking Of Following The Rules...

Can someone explain to me just how the following two items don't break the agreed-upon rules of the debate.

1. The broadcast I watched had a split-screen, so that viewers at home were able to see both candidates. However, section 9 (a) (v) of the memo of understanding says:

When a candidate is speaking, either in answering a question, or making his closing statement, TV coverage will be limited to the candidate speaking.
Clearly this rule was violated.

2. The Democratic National Committee released a video entitled "Faces of Frustration," which shows clips of George Bush's reaction while Kerry is speaking. While I might argue that it's more like "Faces of Disgust," it still seems to be in violation of rule 5 (e), which states:

Neither film footage nor video footage nor any audio excerpts from the debates may be used publicly by either candidate's campaign through any means, including but not limited to, radio, television, internet, or videotapes, whether broadcast or distributed in any other manner.
Unless someone wants to argue that the DNC is not part of Kerry's campaign, which although technically true, seems like a ridiculous argument, considering that they went so far as to consider the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to be part of Bush's campaign, doing his "dirty work." Take a look at the DNC's bylaws. Article 1, Section 1:

The Democratic Party of the United States of America shall: Nominate and assist in the election of Democratic candidates for the offices of President and Vice President of the United States
or this, from their website:

Function of the Committee: The Democratic National Committee plans the Party's quadrennial presidential nominating convention; promotes the election of Party candidates with both technical and financial support...
technically, not Kerry-Edwards '04...just spending money and working in an organized, active way towards the same goal. Someone remind me what the definition of 'campaign' is? Once again, I guess the rules change depending on who's breaking them.

P.S. Even if you don't feel that the DNC is part of Kerry's campaign, then I'd like to find out who the video footage belongs to--how did the DNC get it? If Kerry's people gave it to them, it would then still seem to violate rule 5 (e) which prevents the campaign from using it "through any means" whether "broadcast or distributed in any other manner." I would argue that prevents the campaign from distributing it to another group (the DNC) to be used publicly. If the footage belongs to a specific network, then that should be made clear too. Did the network sell the rights to the footage to a clearly partisan group like the DNC?

UPDATE: Looks like the Bush camp may have broken the rules, too. On GeorgeWBush.com, they have a video titled "global test" that shows John Kerry speaking, with a voice-over talking about the debate--specifically, Kerry's "global test." Now, I should point out that it simply shows Kerry giving a speech--I can't quite tell if it's from the debate or not, and there is no audio. However, the voice over clearly refers to the debate, so even if it's NOT actual debate footage, it is certainly presented that way.


  1. I don't know about the second rule, but that first rule is bullshit and the networks should be ashamed of pretending to sign on to that in the first place. And that is from an 'objective' journalism point of view. On paper, in the text books, the networks, when confronted with a set of rules like this from the parties, should simply say, "You know what? Go fuck yourselves. We'll run Golden Girl reruns. We're not here to make your candidates look good."

    The reason I watched the debate on CSPAN, aside from it being free of the wholesale partisan bullshit commentary from Fox, CNN and the networks (or just some of the wholesale bullshit), is that CSPAN showed split screen the entire time. I'm a Bush supporter, and this coverage was in no way favorable to him. But I still think it should be seen. It might catch your candidate picking his nose, rolling his eyes or falling asleep, but so be it. And it also erases all that bullshit worry about who's taller.

    And I think you're right about the "cheating" thing. If the Republicans start harping on this, they're just going to sound like ... well, like the Democrats have been sounding for the last four years--whiny little punks who can't take a loss. And it's not as if this was something that a cheat sheet would have helped at. You know the general questions, you have a gajillion handlers telling you what to say before hand ... and in Kerry's case, he's the challenger, so you know the harder questions are going to be for the incumbent who has an actual record in that particular office.


  2. All excellent points, my friend. The networks should not have signed on to something like that. But, once they did, they should have stuck by it. Personally, I don't care if I see the candidates or not. These things are about image too much anyway. Most of the time, when I see people writing that Kerry won the debate, they always talk about the "image." "Kerry seemed more polished, less frustrated, etc." But Kerry said absolutely NOTHING new. Everything was general; no specifics. He kept talking about his "plans," but never what they entailed. It's no wonder Bush got frustrated (although I'd say it was more 'pissed off'); All Kerry did was what he's been doing--talking about how bad a job Bush has done. By refusing to talk about his own plans or qualifications, he left Bush with nothing to respond to, except to repeat himself over and over again. And I know it's the Insurrectionst's thing, but I have to disagree with him on that. Speaking as a normal Joe on the street, you CAN repeat a message too much.

    Anyway, that's why I thought it was closer to a draw. Kerry blew his chance to enumerate what he would do, and Bush blew (numerous) chances to call "bullshit" on Kerry's contradictions... sometimes in the same answer.