CNN’s superfluous debate questions

Throughout the New Hampshire debate, moderator John King made special note to inform the candidates that time was ever-so-important when they answered a question, yet had the gall to introduce what is probably the most frivolous line of presidential debate questions in… well, probably ever. I combed through the transcript and present just those really inane questions and responses:

KING: Leno or Conan?
SANTORUM: Probably Leno. But I don’t watch either. Sorry.

KING: Right before the break we did this thing called “This or That.” Just to learn a little bit about the personality of the candidates. Senator Santorum doesn’t stay up very late. He’s a parent. I understand that. He said if he had to he would pick Leno over Conan. Congresswoman Bachmann, to you, Elvis or Johnny Cash?
BACHMANN: That’s really tough. That’s really — both, both.
KING: Both?
BACHMANN: Yes.
KING: Both.
BACHMANN: I’ve “Christmas with Elvis” on my iPod. (LAUGHTER)
KING: All right. Now we know what’s on the congresswoman’s iPod.

KING: All right, we need to work in another break. I know all the candidates want to get in on these issues and other issues. We will get back to them, I promise you that. As we go to break, remember at home, if you have a question on Facebook, send it to us. If you have a question on Twitter, send it to us. You also can use your smartphone to get some exclusive information. We’re playing a little bit of an exercise called “This or That” to learn more about our candidates. It was Conan or Leno. It was Elvis or Johnny Cash. Mr. Speaker, “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol”?
GINGRICH: “American Idol.”
KING: “American Idol” it is. Our candidates continue their debate in just a moment. Stay with us. (APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to our Republican debate here in the first- in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire. Seven candidates up on stage as they try to impress the voters of New Hampshire and the voters of the country tonight. We’ve become, we are told, a trending topic on Twitter. Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to look up there just a bit, and we’ll get to some of these questions, because they’re good questions, privatization there, improving relationships with the Middle East, what industries do you think can reinvent America. All good suggestions from concerned citizens across the country watching this debate unfold. Before we go and out of every break, we’re doing an exercise called “This or That” to learn more about our candidates. The speaker had no hesitation at all: “American Idol” over “Dancing with the Stars. Congressman Paul, BlackBerry or iPhone?
PAUL: BlackBerry.
KING: BlackBerry it is.

KING: We’re going to work in another break. Still a lot more ground to cover with our seven Republican candidates for president tonight. Voters here in New Hampshire are asking the questions. You can help us at home on Facebook and on Twitter. Please send in your suggestions. In and out of every break, we’re asking a candidate a personal question, this or that, to make a choice. Mr. Cain, deep dish or thin crust? (LAUGHTER)
CAIN: Deep dish.
KING: Deep dish, it is. Our seven candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will be right back. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KING: Seven Republican candidates for president here on the campus of St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Let’s continue our conversation. But, first, let’s continue to know our candidates a little better. Deep dish emphatically from Mr. Cain before the break. Governor Romney, to you now. Imagine you’re getting to the barbecue joint. Maybe it’s here in New Hampshire, maybe it’s South Carolina ordering some wings. Spicy or mild?
ROMNEY: Oh, spicy. Absolutely. And, by the way, Bruins are up 4-0. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KING: All right. All right. There you go. There you go. I think — I think that’s an audience pleaser.

KING: All right. I want to — got to work in one more break before we go. We’ve got a lot more ground to cover. Believe it or not, our candidates — we’re running out of time here. Into and out of every break we’re having a little experiment called “This or That.” “Spicy” from Governor Romney was the last one. Governor Pawlenty, to you, Coke or Pepsi?
PAWLENTY: Coke.
KING: Coke it is, a good, swift answer there. We’ve got to work in one more break. Before we go to break, though, I just want to show you. We’re asking you on Twitter to show us what you think. What are the candidates’ opinions on whether or not to withdraw troops from Afghanistan? That and a number of foreign policy questions when we return here to the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, seven Republicans who want to be your next president debating. Stay right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Wow, thanks for dumbing down the debate, I look forward to Coca Cola sponsoring Pawlenty’s campaign instead of him talking about the issues. Way to make seeking the most powerful office in the country another exercise in irrelevant claptrap, CNN. Thumbs up from here to Jersey Shore.

I counted at least seventeen times that John King made a direct mention of the time to the candidates in the CNN transcript. Of course, having watched the show live I was also keenly aware of King’s constant interruptions, throat clearing, and otherwise interjecting to stop a candidate from being long-winded (which wasn’t half as bad as these guys can be if you really let them go at it). Half the time I was wondering if maybe CNN should step back and let the debaters talk about the issues instead of making them fight over thirty seconds of time like children.

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. – Carl Sandburg

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