The other night I watched part of a US political debate between two candidates for a U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania. I have rarely, if ever, seen such a travesty of the word “debate”, let alone such an appalling spectacle that was supposed to contribute to the selection process for one of the highest political offices in the land. It was reminiscent of a verbal TV brawl, with 60 second rounds. It was not only a travesty in itself, but an insult to the office of US Senator.

     The moderators, who you never saw, posed questions like, “What is your position on immigration?” The candidate was given 60 seconds……..yes, 60 seconds….to reply. What sort of answer could anyone give to such a complicated issue in 60 seconds? At several points in this fiasco, the other candidate interrupted the 60 seconds, and the moderators seemed incapable of controlling those outbursts, or giving the speaker a few more seconds because of the interruption. I think the other candidate had 30 seconds to rebut the speaker but the scene was so chaotic, I’m not too sure. A badly choreographed circus would have been a better description of this event. It was certainly not a debate of any sort, let alone a serious political event for high office.

     The brawl was between the Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, a medical doctor who hosts a TV medical show and is a disciple of Donald Trump. Unfortunately, John Fetterman suffered a stroke in May and it obviously has affected his speed of thought and his verbal ability. His doctors have declared him fit to hold office (Deputy Governor) and fit to run as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Dr. Oz is a glib, shallow shyster in my opinion, who is only there at all because he frequently kisses Donald Trump’s ass, and thus receives his support. In addition, although this point seems to be irrelevant, he has also never held a political office of any sort.

     The whole thing was a bizarre joke.

     Dr. Oz’ only answers to all the questions I heard asked – I should add that I couldn’t stomach listening and watching the whole brawl – were to attack his opponent’s position and insult his opponent’s slight disability. I didn’t hear one answer on his own positions.

     To add insult to injury, as far as the audience was concerned, after each 60 second answer and 30 second rebuttal, when that occurred, the broadcast cut to some woman pushing a subscription in the streaming channel that was hosting the brawl. That promotion was followed by several ads before the program cut back to the next question from the invisible bank of moderators/journalists. Giving a candidate 60 seconds to state his position on major topics facing any potential U.S. Senator is an insulting joke. A media circus would be a very kind way of describing this broadcast.

     Further, I have to think that the spectacle I witnessed last night is an example of what US media understands by a debate. I am reminded of an opinion poll conducted after one of the last US Presidential debates. The pollsters asked who was the most convincing, knowledgeable and impressive person in the debate chamber. The moderator, Anderson Cooper, won the poll. (Probably deservedly so!)

     How can you, as voters, possibly gain any impression of how a potential candidate might perform as a representative of the people in 60 seconds? Equally, how can you, as a candidate, possible give any sort of impression that is actually relevant to the job in that time frame? Impossible, on both counts.

       So, what are we actually dealing with here? It was just another TV program designed to produce as many viewers as possible that the channel involved can then sell to its advertisers for more money. The concept that a debate, sorry, brawl, like this might actually provide the voting public with some useful information on the candidates, never enters the picture.

     What I witnessed last night was an insult to the voting public, an insult to democracy, an insult to the office of a US senator, an insult to the candidates, an insult to the United States and an insult to the word debate.

       I should ask when the media will start acting with some sort of responsibility instead of being completely controlled by the need for constant sensationalism and money, but I know I am wasting my time! It has been said that every country gets the politicians it deserves. I am tempted to think that the same applies to the media it deserves.

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