By Joe Concha - 08-29-16 09:55 AM EDT
There have been profoundly stupid editorials served up in this profoundly stupid election season. But the whole bowl of wrong that Fusion threw up this past weekend takes stupid to a whole new level.
Headline: Presidential Debate Moderators Should Not Be White Men Over 55
The argument to discriminate on the basis of race and age is made thusly in paragraph two:
"This isn't what America looks like. Issues around race, gender, immigration, discrimination and justice are not just talking points - they're a matter of life or death for many," the op-ed reads. "We need moderators who better reflect this reality.
Of course the authors, Dodai Stewart and Alexis Madrigal, don't bother doing much of something called research before making their opening argument over why moderators can't be born before 1961 or Caucasian. Because according to Pew Research last month, the most important issues in voters' minds is the economy (84 percent say it's important) and terrorism (80 percent). Immigration ranks sixth.
As for the issues the piece says are life or death, racial issues come in 10th, and discrimination and justice ranks last on the 14 listed. That pressing issue on "gender" was not listed.
The Fusion commentary then jumps into dating preferences as another reason for advocating race and age discrimination:
"Large numbers of these young people date outside their race," the piece explains. "They believe in a gender spectrum," adding, "But as The Washington Post reports, young people are also less likely to vote. Could it be because they don't see themselves as important to the electoral process? Could it be because they're not included in the important conversations?"
So the argument seems to be this: Only people of color or those who aren't relatively old men know how to connect with young voters. That absolutely explains Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's success in connecting with millennials on Comedy Central, because both of those white guys were over 50 when they each moved on from the network.
And then another predictable pivot is made:
"We need a moderator who will ask about Black Lives Matter," it argues, adding later in the paragraph, "Reporters who are gay, women, black, Latino, Asian and Native American should be considered for the moderator roles. And we're not talking about brief cameo appearances by black and brown faces invited to ask uncomfortable questions before being shuttled off the stage."
Serious question for authors Stewart and Madrigal: Have you ever even watched a presidential debate in the general before? Do you even have a clue that - since 1996, mind you - there has only been one moderator conducting each debate? One.
Nobody of color has ever been "shuttled on and off the stage." To state such a fictional scenario to your readers is not only a lie, it's amateur to not even bother looking it up.
The op-ed mercifully ends by offering up Jorge Ramos - a Univision and Fusion anchor whose daughter is a member of Hillary Clinton's Democratic presidential campaign - as its first preference. Ramos also recently wrote an editorial advocating for bias against Republican nominee Donald Trump, declaring his candidacy a danger to the country that the press is now obligated to stop.
"Neutrality is not an option," he wrote before declaring that "Judgement Day is coming" to those journalists who don't fall in line.
Yup - perfect choice. Others offered up include four more anchors from Fusion, Katy Tur of NBC News, Irin Carmon of MSNBC and Nia-Malika Henderson of CNN, who recently made the argument that Trump's "law and order" campaign theme has "racist undertones."
Of its 28 selections, the op-ed's only choice that actually has a shot of moderating is NBC's Lester Holt (I have him pegged as a top choice of the Commission on Presidential Debates of anyone available). But Holt is 57, so it's not clear if being over the 55 bar set won't still be of some concern to Fusion.
"The people moderating the debates ought to reflect those of us who will inherit America," the piece concludes.
It also ought to reflect selections of debate moderators who have ample experience in the industry, are objective and trusted (a dying breed), and those who will ask questions that attack one candidate solely to destroy him, as one compromised Fusion anchor recently recommended all journalists should do.
It truly is sad to see those like Dodai Stewart and Alexis Madrigal make arguments seen solely through the prism of race and age, all while not bothering to do much research on anything to build an argument around.
But given where journalism is heading - from actual reporting and (in theory) relatively free of partisanship to outright advocacy and blatant bias - it really isn't surprising, is it?
Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.