Remember those CNN/YouTube debates a few months back, in which they crowded the stage with all the guys (and Hillary) running for president and had them answer questions posed by snowmen and Clinton campaign volunteers?
Well it looks like they’re coming to Canada. A media consortium (but not the media consortium) has banded together to form the Forum des chefs (auto-video-play warning), which is soliciting questions posed by Internet users for the French-language leaders’ debate an online debate in French sometime after the official debate*. The media partners, each of which provides a columnist to discuss the answers, includes Cyberpresse (La Presse), Le Devoir, Radio-Canada and L’Actualité magazine.
You’ll notice the ominous absence of TVA (which is part of the consortium running the official debate), Canoe, the Journal de Montréal or any other Quebecor property.
There’s also an inherent danger in simply accepting questions from the public like this. One of the CNN/YouTube debate questions, it turns out, came from a very active member of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It would be very difficult for journalists to properly vet every question to see if the person behind it may have gotten help from a campaign or may have a hidden agenda. Now it’ll be in the best interests of the campaigns to either submit questions themselves or get other people to submit questions for them. Perhaps they can issue talking points to the public so they know how to phrase those questions.
You can see the slippery slope forming here. What are the chances of it being abused?
*I’m an idiot (again) and didn’t read properly. It’s not the official debate, which I guess means it doesn’t matter as much. But the potential for abuse is still there.