Wanted: Tough Questions for the Presidential Debates

My brother wears a second hat at NiemanWatchdog.org, besides his Washington Post gig. Here's Nieman's request for tough debate questions

The Internet can make the presidential debates better. NiemanWatchdog.org will make it happen. Starting this week, NiemanWatchdog.org is soliciting tough, incisive questions that President Bush and Senator Kerry should be asked at the upcoming presidential debates.

The Niemanwatchdog.org Web site is a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. The site's primary mission is to encourage watchdog reporting by drawing on authorities in various fields to suggest questions the press should ask.

For its presidential debate project, NiemanWatchdog.org is accepting submissions from experts and amateurs alike. The editors of the site will also be scouring blogs and other Web sites, looking for questions being posed there.

“This is no time for softballs,” said NiemanWatchdog.org deputy editor Dan Froomkin. “We believe that the collective wisdom of the Internet community can generate some superbly pointed questions that will oblige the candidates to provide the kinds of answers the public deserves.”

Several days before each presidential debate, NiemanWatchdog.org will select what its editors think are the best questions for each candidate, and will announce the winners on the Web site — as well as in a press release to major media organizations.

Internet users are encouraged to post their questions, or questions they've seen elsewhere on the Web, directly onto the NiemanWatchdog.org Web site, at http://www.niemanwatchdog.org. They can also e-mail them to editor@niemanwatchdog.org, along with their names, hometown, and affiliation if relevant.

Pity there's no way to have people vote on questions and then make the moderators ask the most popular ones. (Yes, yes, we'd have to prevent people voting more than once, and yes, yes, that's a complex problem.)

This entry was posted in Dan Froomkin, Politics: US: 2004 Election. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Wanted: Tough Questions for the Presidential Debates

  1. Pingback: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog

  2. John Wendt says:

    “In view of your enthusiasm for small business, will you institute some sort of special subsidy for small businesses that have been devastated by having owners or key workers called up for military reserve duty?”

  3. Pingback: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog

  4. Mojo says:

    “This question is for both candidates. Had you been in charge on September 11th 2001, what would you have done?”

  5. Very concerned says:

    To President Bush: You promised that the Iraq war would help wipe out terrorism, make the world safer, and eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass-destruction. To date, the world appears much more dangerous for Americans, terrorists have been splintered into well organized groups that will be nearly impossible to track and there were no weapons of mass-destruction. How do you justify this?

    To President Bush: The kyoto agreement was an attempt to preserve a livable earth for our children. How do you justify the US dropping out in favor of big business? Will big business be there to save us in the end?

    To President Bush: When you rewrote an EPA report on the effects of Global Warming, did you not consider that unethical?

    To Candidate Kerry: You have earned a reputation of flip-flopping when it comes to voting on important issues such as the Iraq war. This can be seen as being overly influenced or not understanding the issues well enough to make an informed vote. What is to convince us that if elected president, that you will not continue to be as weak? A president needs to be a strong decision maker. They also need to make reasonable and balanced decisions. Will you.

    To Candidate Kerry: After 9/11 a large number of nations voiced their commitment to work together to make the world a safer place to live. Since then the current administration has single handedly made the United States one of the most hated nations. How do you intend to repair these damaged relationships with other nations?

  6. worried says:

    What is your stand on the draft?

  7. Millie Crockett says:

    To both: What is your plan for middle class people who fall thru’ the cracks as far as any aide for prescription drugs. Yes, I can pay the price if I have to. But I have worked hard and planned for retirement and I don’t want to donate it to the drug companies. The government has come down hard on hospitals and doctors, how about the paharmaceutical companies?

  8. Charles Pettitt says:

    One of the key qualities of leadership is vision, not only having it, but having the ability to realize it in a very real way. A clear and present crisis facing our nation today is our almost complete dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels to power our cars, homes, and businesses. This includes the very real and visible affect this dependence has on our nation’s foreign policies. What vision does each of the candidates have to reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuel based power by 50% over the next 5 years, and eliminating it entirely within 10 years? What will they do to realize this vision?

  9. Sheldon Hills says:

    When oil was $12 per barrel, gasoline surged to $1.20 per gallon. When oil went to $20 per barrel gas went to almost $2.00 per gallon. We were told the rise was strictly due to the cost of the oil. Why, now that oil is over $50 per barrel is gasoline still only $2.00 per gallon, not $5.00. What force is holding the price of gas down? The refineries could not have become that much more efficient and the tax cuts could not have been enough to justify the discrepency.

  10. R. Meredith RN says:

    As a Registered Nurse, I am concerned about the recent news release stating that there will be a shortage of the Flu vaccine this year. This is due to be fact that American drug companies cannot afford to make the vaccine due to the high cost ot malpratice claims filed against them. THis is why we have had to rely on foreign complanies to make the vaccine and now they have run into the same problem. This question is for Senator Kerry to address since his Vice Presential Running mate has made millions sueing doctors and drug companies and he(John Edwards) has the nerve to even addresss this problem in the first debate with Vice Presidnet CHeney. This is going to be a serious problem if the vaccine will not be aviable to the elderly and people who work in high risk professions. This will result in more people being hospitalized this winter due to complications of the flu and we are in the midst of a major nursing shortage. Senator Kerry, What is the solution to the problem of sky rocketing medical costs from all the malpratice suits being filed against doctors,
    hospitals, nurses and drug companies?

  11. Observer says:

    Sheldon: the price of oil is a very complex topic. Here are some thoughts on your questions:

    1) The “price of oil” quoted in the press is the spot market, which is most volatle. Most oil is locked up in more stable, lower-priced long term contracts, or is owned by the same company that refines it.

    2) Subtract the portion of gasoline prices that are due to taxes (most taxes are on a per-gallon basis, not on a percentage-of-price basis), and you’ll find the apparent disparity is not as great as it seems with the figures you quoted.

    3) Naturally refined crude allows only a certain percentage of the oil to be distilled into gasoline. The rest is distilled into other grades of refined oil. Because gasoline is in higher demand-relative-to-supply relative to the other grades, it historically generates higher relative prices. However, in recent decades innovations have allowed refineries to increase the percentage of crude oil that results in gasoline. That is, you get more gallons of gasoline per barrel of crude than before.

    4) Street gasoline prices are the subject of extremely detailed and costly analysis and daily adjustment by the oil companies. I’m not going into the details now, but it is possible (probable actually) that oil companies are keeping the street gasoline prices as low as possible right now to counter the increased cost of crude. This may seem counter-intuitive, but oil companies really want to avoid the sort of massive demand-drop that occurred in the mid-1970s.

  12. W.T. Lessig says:

    This question is for Senator Kerry. Sir, if you are elected president, how do you propose to appoint judges for the many vacancies. In light of the past Democratic party’s filibuster that has kept these positions from coming to a vote and therefore vacant during President Bush’s administration, do you suppose that the Repubicans in the Senate will allow you to appoint anyone but conservative judges without using the filibuster themselves?

  13. allen mittman says:

    I want someone to ask important reality questions that pertain to daily activities.

    Such as prices of everything, not just gas.

    Prices of everything us consumers consume have all gone up.

  14. Marylynne Diggs says:

    To George Bush:
    During the 1992 presidential campaign, candidates debated the merits of trickle-down economics. In what way does your economic policy resemble trickle-down economics, and in what way, if any, does it differ?

  15. GOD says:

    George-you blew it


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