CNN and YouTube billed tonight’s Republican debate as one in which “YOU ask the questions of the candidates through videos you submit on YouTube.” After the Democratic debate in July with the same format, Steve Grove, YouTube’s news and politics editor, said the debate was “more democratic than ever.”
Out of almost 5,000 video submissions, CNN chose to pose 34 to the candidates tonight. Instead of alloting all slots to ordinary citizens — who don’t normally have access to politicians — CNN gave airtime to a question from Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist. Watch it:
Norquist is a powerful right-wing Washington insider, with no shortage of access to the candidates. He was deeply involved in the unethical and secretive K Street Project, which helped foster the culture of corruption in Washington, and was close friends with fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In July, he received an exclusive meeting with Karl Rove to discuss the administration’s Iraq policies.
Ironically, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) also submitted a YouTube question. Yet CNN rejected it, arguing that he “has regular access to politicians.”