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Why Did South Carolina Republican Debate Audience Resemble The Jerry Springer Show?

January 19, 2012

After the first three minutes of the CNN Republican debate someone has to ask the obvious question.   

Did the Republican audience think they were at the Jerry Springer show?

There was no respect from the audience for the way the debate was conducted.  John King is a much respected journalist, and CNN is an international news operation.  But the cat-calls and whistles while teabaggers stood up and acted like they had never been allowed out in society before makes me wonder what the threshold must be to get a ticket for one of these debates.

What is it with these people?

Those in attendance Thursday night, by and large, were clearly in the market for a bridge at a low-cost.  When Newt Gingrich’s zipper problem and unfaithfulness from his three marriages was made into a question one would have thought John King was asking if the slaves should be freed.  The crowd erupted in horror and loud dismay.  They were ready to be conned–in fact– begging to be taken for fools.

And would you be shocked if the candidates did not play them that way?

Newt Gingrich was able to send the question out over the stands by attacking the media.  The very ones who should be reading and watching more are always the first to have disdain for the messenger, and so they stood and chanted Newt’s name and made asses of themselves on national television.

Newt Gingrich was not going to own up to the infidelities he committed, or address the family values that Republicans are always preening themselves over for political purposes.  The Jerry Springer-like audience was not about to hold a conservative candidate responsible for bedding women while married, and so stood and nearly wetted themselves with excitement as Gingrich started to sweat into his suit.

The term dim-witted took on a whole new meaning when the audience reacted in the manner it did.

I have sat through many a contentious lecture at the UW-Madison and can attest to better manners and over-all politeness for the events taking place on the stage.  But then the crowds at the UW are there to learn something and to become educated about matters that impact society.

Those in attendance in South Carolina for the GOP debate were clearly out for red-meat. 

The winner of the debate Thursday night was President Obama.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2012 12:10 PM

    That’s a hard one for me to have a thought about this question.
    I have never watched any episodes of The Jerry Springer Show.

    But I’m thinking people have learned to ignore the media after
    so many decades of mud slinging that are hyped and yet totally
    boring and meaningless.

    As I age I have less tolerance for the Bull that suppose to be ‘News Worthy’.
    And with an older population = a more Conservitive population.

    Were not Liberal college kids anymore. Reality has set in.


  2. January 20, 2012 8:16 PM


    For better or worse what was driving not only the news coverage, but also the candidates themselves on the ground in South Carolina on Thursday was the marriage story. Check out the Newt team and how they were going network to network to talk about this matter. Look at how the others were ramping up family references.

    One can argue the chicken and egg aspect of the coverage, but at the end of the day it falls upon the candidate that wants (our) vote to do the explaining. For King not to have asked the question, and done so at the top of the debate, would have been unprofessional from a journalistic point of view.

    That to me is the point when it comes to the question being asked at the top of the debate.

    The GOP staged the debate, (as they have many of them over the past months) but the news media are not to allow themselves to be props for what these debates have far too often turned out to be. That is a series of huge pep rallies for the presidential candidates.

    Somewhere the serious tone and respectful audience for presidential debates (at least at this point in the nominating process) resembles more the House of Commons than what I have watched over the decades on American television. In my estimation, that is not good for the process. BTW, I would be even harder on the Dems if they acted in this fashion.

    My second main point to the Gingrich issue is the character factor. Again, for better or worse it is an issue and needs to have a fully aired answer. That was not done Thursday night.

    Later on Thursday I watched the first minutes of the debate again. I thought about how Gingrich could have used the time to make a ‘presidential-type’ moment that may very well have changed the political dynamics.

    President Eisenhower had an emotional press conference in his first term and pondered for many minutes the status of a number of Americans that were being tried in China, and facing life in prison. Ike was able to use his personal feelings and emotions (as they were) to convey the larger message that war was not the answer. It was one of the character moments that remains a lesson that history books often mention.

    Pressing a candidate or president to ‘open up’ and reflect honestly on an issue of the day can be very productive.

    So I think the problem was not that King asked the question, but that Newt ducked answering.

  3. Patrick permalink
    January 20, 2012 7:11 PM

    Here’s the thing about the Jerry Springer Show–Jerry Springer. Its not that conservatives don’t think that Newt is a sack of spoiled lard, its that John King is supposed to be conducting a significant debate of the issues. So he asks these sorrdid questions, questions best left to a far lesser forum than CNN, and gets smacked down. Afterward he insults the people by suggesting they are the type who enjoys “cock fignting while his lib buddies pat him on the back like some kind of hero (Go Jerry!).

    And while we’re at it, let me be clear: Newt is scum. But according to NPR his first wife didn’t have MS, but merely a tingling sensation on her hand–a symptom which sometimes points to future MS.

  4. Solly permalink
    January 20, 2012 10:13 AM

    Wow Ferrell, you really should see a Dr. to have that case of amnesia treated. So, the Dems get a free pass, as in John Edwards, Cong. David Wu (Tigger), and Anthony Weiner’s weinergate??? And, as Keith Jackson would say, the granddaddy of them all, the Whitewater investigation and 2nd impeachment of a president, William Jefferson Clinton. I guess Clinton forgot to present his Monopoly game FREE PASS card. And even more delicious, the whited sepulchres Newtie, Bob Livingston and Henry Hyde, adulterers all, casting the first stones. (Of course Hyde’s affair was a youthful indiscretion when he was in his 40s, so he got a free pass). And for Newtie to say bringing this up in the debate “is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine,” I can imagine something closer, serving your first wife with divorce papers while she’s in a hospital bed being treated for cancer, and you did just that Newtie. But, I guess you can say “my bad” and it should be forgotten. IOKIARDI!

  5. January 19, 2012 9:27 PM


    I am rather stunned at your response, as you put yourself out as a conservative with family values. Here is a candidate that wants your suppport, and wants to represent you who divorced his first wife, Jackie, as she was being treated for cancer and then also sought an “open marriage” arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife. You can not in any way get away with equating that with as you say “If you are a Republican, they will dig up something you did when you were 5 and parade out a string of paid pychos to add drama to the story’

    Really, this is how you want to address this matter?

    I await your response.

  6. January 19, 2012 9:22 PM

    Newt is right. If you are a Democrat you get a pass on everything you have done in your life. If you are a Republican, they will dig up something you did when you were 5 and parade out a string of paid pychos to add drama to the story. If they can’t find anything, they will make it up, much like making up that Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house, Sarah NEVER said that but the media with help from that ding bat what’s her name from SNL did a darn good job making it appear like she did. Ask most people who dont follow Politics and they think Sarah actually said it. Anyway, long story short, Newts lecture was spot on! I wish more Republicans would start speaking out like that! At least I know, Newt will not take chit from anyone! He is growing on me.

  7. Keith Schmitz permalink
    January 19, 2012 9:17 PM

    That, or a bund rally.

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