We’ve already heard about questions for Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail being planted by the campaign staff itself. The practice is evidently more widespread than I would have imagined. It turns out that the Republican candidates’ debate arranged by CNN last night contained multiple planted questions. Questioners described as “undecided” have been unmasked as Clinton, Obama, and Edwards supporters and activists.
Now I have no complaints about a debate in which supporters of one party ask questions of candidates from the other. In fact, I think it’s a good idea. It’s important that people face questions coming from ideological perspectives different from their own, and it’s important to people of one party to see how candidates will handle questions raised by the opposition. Cross-examination is a good idea.
But it should be labeled as such. We should know whether questions are coming from friendly, undecided, or opposing quarters. CNN was wrong to mislead the audience and the candidates themselves about what was really going on.
Now that it’s clear, will CNN hold a debate among the Democratic candidates in which Republican voters get to ask the questions? Can you imagine how CNN would be playing this if Fox News had done something similar in reverse?