OPINION

Paul Janensch: Debate ploy: ‘Let’s you and him fight’

Paul Janensch: Debate ploy: ‘Let’s you and him fight’
1565102572 Paul Janensch Debate ploy ‘Let’s you and him fight’


In the Popeye comedian strip, Wimpy gets Popeye to defeat guys up by telling the muscle-sure sailor, “Let’s you and him combat.”

I was reminded of this while observing the Democratic presidential debates on CNN July 30 and July 31.

Was I shocked that the CNN moderators would vacation resort to Wimpy’s ploy to provoke heated exchanges among the candidates? Not a little bit. The reaction of X to what Y did or said can be newsworthy. Here’s an example:

On July 30, soon after the 10 candidates created their opening statements, moderator Jake Tapper seemed at Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and observed that Rep. John Delaney of Maryland experienced referred to as Sanders’ Medicare for All strategy “bad policy” and “political suicide that will get President Trump re-elected.”


Tapper asked Sanders, “What do you say to Congressman Delaney?” (Translation: “Let’s you and him fight.”)

Sanders explained to Delaney, “You’re mistaken.” That drew laughter and applause from the viewers in Detroit’s Fox Theater.

Following Sanders explained far more particulars of his program, Tapper claimed: “Thank you, Sen. Sanders. Congressman Delaney?” (More “Let’s you and him fight.”)

“Well, I’m appropriate about this,” explained Delaney. He went on to say that folks should be allowed to have private insurance if they want it.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts sided with Sanders on Medicare for All. Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., previous Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota desired to maintain a non-public insurance plan alternative.

Candidates interrupted and talked above one particular another. Tapper enforced the time boundaries on rebuttals (45 seconds) and clarifications requested by a moderator (15 seconds).

Sanders informed Tapper that one of his concerns was “a Republican chatting place.”

Some in the media globe objected to “Let’s you and him fight” in the debate.

Jon Allsop wrote on cjr.org, the digital system of the Columbia Journalism Evaluation, that moderators Tapper, Dana Bash and Don Lemon “seemed to frame their issues to gin up conflict concerning the candidates: leftists v. moderates, leftists v. leftists.”

He quoted a tweet by Washington Publish columnist Eugene Robinson that CNN’s “clear intent was to spark fights.”


So? To me, the fights confirmed how divided the Democratic Party is involving progressives and pragmatists. Which is significant for the community to know.

As a reporter, I tried “Let’s you and him battle.”

In 1964, when I was a news intern at WLS-Television, the ABC station in Chicago, I attended a push convention called by Mayor Richard J. Daley (the to start with Mayor Daley).

I lifted my hand. Daley looked at me and claimed, “Yes?” I claimed that So-and-so had criticized a certain method announced by City Corridor. “What’s your reaction, Mr. Mayor?” I asked.

Daley frowned and snapped, “What’s HIS application?” Then he turned his head and mentioned, “Next question.”

That time, “Let’s you and him fight” did not develop significantly news.


Paul Janensch, of Bridgeport, was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac College. Electronic mail: [email protected]



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