The every-four-years ritual of a national “town hall” style debate began as a nerve-racking experiment in live television. Moderator Carole Simpson was so nervous about turning over the microphone to regular folks and their questions that she spent days mapping out the presidential candidates and their issues on “a zillion 3-by-5 cards,” in case she had to take over the questioning herself.
Town halls have lost some of their spontaneity. The 80 or so undecided voters chosen for Tuesday’s event must submit their questions in advance and moderator Candy Crowley of CNN will decide which people to call on. She can pose her own follow-up questions.
In 1992, questions weren’t screened beforehand. Simpson walked through the audience Oprah-style and a producer signaled which person to talk to next, seeking a good demographic mix. She had no idea what each person might ask.
“They were not the questions the media had been focusing on,” said Simpson, who now teaches journalism at Emerson College in Boston. “They were asking about bread-and-butter issues that they were interested in - the education in their schools, the crime in their neighborhoods, the economy and jobs.”
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Basically more of the same of making a Townhall a sham. You can be guaranteed the candidates will know the questions asked before hand and that Obama will put ringers in the audience to try to trip up Rommey.