Everyone who moderates a debate this year could learn from the journalists who guided the May 1 Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidates' debate: Todd Dorman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Paul Yeager of Iowa Public Television, and Jeneane Beck of Iowa Public Radio. Too many journalists ask long-winded questions that are easy to evade, or ask about hot topics of no lasting importance, or ask about policies outside the scope of the office the candidates are seeking.
In contrast, almost every question the panelists asked during Saturday's debate was direct and addressed an issue the next governor of Iowa will face. Here are a few examples:
"Can you name one service government provides today that it should stop providing in the interest of saving the budget?"
"If elected, will you continue to support the Iowa Values Fund, the business grant and loan program created during the Vilsack administration, and also the renewable energy grant program established by Governor Culver known as the Iowa Power Fund?"
"Is there a role that government should play in limiting premium increases by Iowa insurance companies?"
"Do you believe that obesity is a problem that should be addressed through government action such as limiting unhealthy ingredients in food?"
Mind you, asking a direct, unambiguous question doesn't guarantee that you'll get a straight answer from a politician. Look what happened when Dorman asked the Republicans, "Can you identify one tangible way Iowa has been harmed during a full year of legal same-sex marriage?"Continue Reading...