Idiocy du jour: CNN’s debate EKG
Although I’ve railed on CNN in the past, I think their election coverage and analysis team on the whole has been top-notch. Even though I want to stab Wolf Blitzer with a screwdriver every time he parrots “the best political team on television,” I happen to believe that CNN does in fact have the best and fairest analyst group, and I must also confess that even John King’s overly informative Delegate Map (seen in the primaries, and certain to be seen on Nov. 4) is pretty darn cool.
But CNN still has a tendency to get bogged down in their goofy technological gimmicks, and the most recent and flagrant example has got to be that EKG-looking thing during the recent presidential and vice-presidential debates.
This thing is just plain stupid.
If you haven’t seen it, the way it works is this: A group of participants is selected and is given a dial that works not unlike the darkness selector on a toaster. During the debate, the participants turn the knobs either toward positive or negative to reflect their feelings based on what they’re hearing. Plus for positive (I like what I’m hearing); minus for negative (I don’t like what I’m hearing). Got it? The results are tallied in real time and fed to the readout which appears on the screen during the debate, sort of like a live heart monitor for debating acumen.
For the first presidential debate, the dials were distributed between three groups identified as Democrats (blue line), Republicans (red line), and independents (green line). Imagine the shocker that whenever Barack Obama spoke, the red line plummeted and the blue line spiked. And when John McCain spoke, the opposite happened. The green line stayed mostly in the middle.
Now THAT’S what I call useful technology supplying groundbreakingly useful results. The Republicans liked McCain and the Democrats liked Obama! Simply and totally UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE.
For Thursday’s VP debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, CNN instead broke the groups down into men and women, rather than by political party. This gave for somewhat more useful results, since they could not simply break down along partisan lines like everything, absolutely everything, in this country usually does.
But come on, CNN. This device belongs somewhere in some video game, not on debates for the White House. Besides, if you’re going to give everyone a toaster dial, it should at least also have a special red nuclear-option button on it, so that when Wolf Blitzer comes on the screen and starts yammering about the best political team on television, the audience can blow him up.