Wednesday, October 17, 2012

As we head to Del Boca Vista, we're oh-for-three on moderators

After watching three moderators either channel an empty chair, get steamrolled, or both, I've decided to throw my hat in the ring to moderate one of the 2016 debates since I figure I cannot possibly do worse. Today I'm sitting down for lunch with one of the decision makers in that process, Maude R. Aytor.

Maude: So, you'd like to moderate of the debates in 2016. Tell me why.

Grape: Well, so far all the debates have gotten totally out of control of the moderator. I think I could do a better job enforcing the rules and keeping things fair.

Maude:  How so?

Grape: Well, in television we are very much in tune with time limits. If a package cannot run one second longer than a minute-thirty, it doesn't. The six o'clock news doesn't start at five minutes after six. The first thing I would do is strictly enforce time limits for the candidates.

Maude: Our rules state each candidate will get two minutes for a response, With that in mind, how much time would you give each candidate?

Grape: This a trick question?

Maude: No.

Grape: Then I would give each candidate two minutes.

Maude: (shakes head in disgust) Oh, I can see we're gonna have a problem here.

Grape: What's the correct answer?

Maude: There is no correct answer. The two minute limit is bogus. Nobody enforces it, and the candidates don't pay attention to it.

Grape: So what's the point of the rule?

Maude: It's just there to make the general public think we're fair. Now, moving on. Who are you going to vote for in November?

Grape: I'm not telling you that.

Maude: Why not?

Grape: Because as a journalist I'm supposed to remain objective and not reveal any personal opinions.

Maude: Uh-huh. (Shakes her head and writes some notes on a pad.)

At this point a waitress arrives to take our order.

Waitress: Hello, my name is Mindy and I'll be taking your order today. Our lunch specials are grilled salmon with a creamy dill sauce, pasta primavera--

Maude: I'll need a list of any politicians who attended your wedding.

The waitress glares at Maud.

Grape: Uh, she's still talking.

Maude: Oh, interrupting is no big deal and is encouraged. I'm just preparing you for the debate if you're selected.

Grape: (to waitress) Give us two minutes.

Maude: Or five. Or ten. Whatever! Time doesn't matter! Meanwhile, politicians at your wedding?

Grape: None. Thank God. My wedding was not a photo op. Except for the bride.

Maude: (Writes more notes down on her pad.) Give me a few examples of your best "gotcha" questions you've posed to politicians.

Grape: I don't believe in using gotcha questions.

Maude: So how in the world do you make politicians look stupid?

Grape: They do that quite well on their own without any help from me.

Maude: I see. Your opinion on Big Bird?

Grape: Seriously?

Maude: So, bottom line... you're not biased, have no personal friends who are politicians, and don't use gotcha questions. You have opinions but won't tell me any of them. And I take it from your tone that you apparently don't watch Sesame Street. Have I left anything out?

Grape: Well, I think the moderator of any debate has to be in control and run it with a strong hand. You can't let it become a free-for-all with no rules.

Maude: (Writes more notes and closes her notebook.) Well, thank you for your time, but I'm afraid this isn't going to work out.

Grape: Did I say something wrong?

Maude: Look, I'm sure you have good intentions, but we have certain... qualifications... we require.

Grape: And those would be?

Maude: Oh, it's a secret. But I'm sure you can figure it out. (Big smile.)

Grape: Thanks. That was a gotcha question, by the way.


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