The Des Moines Register’s streak of holding a presidential debate in every presidential election since 1980 has come to end. Wednesday evening, the Des Moines Register abandoned its plans to hold a Republican presidential debate in conjunction with Google and Iowa Public Television. The Register’s debate was scheduled for December 19th.
Instead, the Register will play a relatively minor role in the ABC News/Republican Party of Iowa debate that has been on the books for quite some time now. That debate will be held on December 10th. The Register, which will get some branding and the ability to submit questions to be considered by debate moderators Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, is painting a picture that their involvement in the ABC News debate will ensure that the debate is fair and independent.
I understand that it’s important for the Register to save face and still be part of a major presidential debate, but the reason there is no Des Moines Register debate in 2011 is because their debate in 2007 was such an embarrassment. Not only did the Register hold its debate in the middle of the workday in 2007, but it also took the major issues of concern off of the table and allowed Alan Keyes on the debate stage. Keyes had not even held a single campaign event in Iowa that year.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer called the Register’s 2007 debate, “crushingly dull,” and added, “That was not just the worst debate of 2007, that was the worst debate in western history, and that includes the ancient Greeks.”
Other news outlets and late night shows also mocked the debate.
The Des Moines Register is not holding a presidential debate for the first time in 30 years because they lost all credibility four years ago. No matter how they want to spin it, how they conducted their Republican debate in 2007 has weakened their already diminished influence on the caucus process and cost them a high profile debate.
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