Why no progressive journalists on Tuesday’s Democratic debate?

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 10.16.10 AMThere’s an old a joke where one fish asks another fish “how’s the water?” The other fish replies, “what the hell is water?”

The point is, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to perceive the conditions of one’s environment. They’re just given.

That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the journalistic environment that’s created around our Presidential debates. The people asking the questions have the power to influence how the audience perceives the whole experience. None of the debates so far have featured progressive journalists framing questions. This needs to change.

The first Democratic Presidential Primary Debate will be moderated by these  journalists: Dana Bash, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Juan Carlos Lopez. When you have a panel of centrist insiders posing questions from their point of view, the perception is that the only “right and reasonable” point of view is that of the Beltway Insider. Especially in our current “disruptive” environment, with ascendent outsiders such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, it only makes sense to include journalists who are adept at navigating this new landscape.

CNN would certainly have to look outside of their stable of journos to find a progressive voice. But they sure didn’t seem put out at having to outsource an ultra-conservative talking head when they tapped evangelical radio host Hugh Hewitt from far-right Salem Media who participated in the last CNN Republican Presidential Primary Debate.

In the case of the Democratic debate, to silence the progressive voice seems a spectacular misstep. This could be an opportunity for CNN to prove its relevancy by bringing on a top-tier progressive such as Katha Pollitt from The Nation, David Corn from Mother Jones, or Thomas Frank from Harper’s — thinkers who can elevate the discussion to a true national debate on issues important to Americans, rather than the usual pitting of personalities against each other.

I’m not holding my breath, but I will use this link to sign the Roots Action petition which reads: For the sake of basic fairness and balance, you should add to your panel an unapologetic progressive for Tuesday’s debate.

And I hope you will too.




Brook Hines is a writer, photographer, activist and former alt-weekly publisher, as well as an award-winning advertising creative with more than 20 years’ experience crafting strategy in “words + pictures” for clients ranging from banking and financial services to radical nuns. She’s the Senior Political Correspondent for Progressive News Network, the Communications Chair for the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, Outreach Chair for the Orange County Democratic Party, and the 2015-2016 Co-Chair of New Leaders Council, Orlando Chapter.

 All opinions offered here are her own, delivered from the perspective of social theory and cultural criticism. Political and media analysis through a progressive lens; owned by no one, and bound to piss everyone off, eventually.

awesome dogs couchYou can easily find Brook Hines on Facebook and Flickr. Read all of Brook’s articles here. 

These are her Italian Greyhounds, Trouble and Daphne. Born on 4-20-2000, Trouble’s full name is Boots Dunn Trouble. Like Cher and Prince, Daphne only needs one name. 



  1. There are no progressive interviewers by design. The “game” is to protect and pump the Corporatist/ESTABLISHMENT candidate on the Democratic side of our faux two party political system. Softballs galore that allow Hillary to explain her various “issues,” will be lobbed in her direction ad nauseum.

    The most important point to understand, is that the next President will in fact be a Democrat as the “other” Party will nominate a candidate too far right to be successful in the general election. In light of this, the ESTABLISHMENT must at all costs have one of theirs in position to do their bidding on the Democratic side of the One Party CORPORATIST Political State. A political revolution must be preempted at all costs e.g., Bernie Sanders.
    John Russell,Dade City


  2. Joe Kreps · · Reply

    The political system isn’t broken, it’s fixed.


    1. I can’t believe I’ve never heard that 🙂


      1. Lifted from Ben & Jerry and CSNY.


  3. patrianakos · · Reply

    I think this is why Ted Turner is sorry as hell he ever sold out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark Lynn · · Reply

    We aren’t held captive by our extremes like the GOP, thus no need for a liberal Hewitt. That is a good thing! Anyway, Anderson Cooper is liberal enough. This debate is going to be a bit of a yawner compared to the freak shows the other party has put on. I don’t expect much fireworks, but hope my man Jim Webb can break through!! Thumbs down to DNC Chair & fellow Floridian DWS for her actions toward DNC Vice Chair Tulsi Gabbard. She is being spiteful & petty … long past time for a new Chair.


    1. Here’s a few snips and a link to that story on Tulsi Gabbard –> http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/10/12/d-n-c-officer-says-she-was-disinvited-from-debate-after-calling-for-more-of-them/?_r=0

      Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she was disinvited from the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Nevada after she appeared on television and called for more face-offs.

      Ms. Gabbard confirmed on Sunday that her chief of staff received a message last Tuesday from the chief of staff to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the national committee, about her attendance at the debate. A day earlier, Ms. Gabbard had appeared on MSNBC and said there should be an increase beyond the current six sanctioned debates.

      A person close to the committee who asked for anonymity to discuss internal discussions insisted, however, that Ms. Gabbard had not been disinvited. Instead, the person said, an aide to Ms. Wasserman Schultz expressed a desire to keep the focus on the candidates as the debate approached, rather than on a “distraction” that could divide the party, and suggested that if Ms. Gabbard could not do that, she should reconsider going.

      Ms. Gabbard insisted otherwise.


  5. Always love your blogs. “far-right Salem Media” love that. So fitting. Mostly every Sunday I go to the Meet the Press Facebook and as for other press. Carl Hiassen, Joe Conason, even bring in some of our great local journalists from around the country.
    I’m going to try to go to debate party at Terra Fermatta with my friends.




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