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Cooper: YouTube Debate Will 'Honor' Ordinary Citizens

Ahead of Monday's CNN/YouTube debate, we spoke earlier this week with CNN's Anderson Cooper, the moderator of the gathering of Democratic presidential hopefuls in Charleston, S.C. He's required to watch all of the video questions submitted for consideration, and likes what he's seen so far.

"The thing that sticks out to me, is the diversity of the people asking the questions, and the diversity of the questions, and the diversity of the ways the questions are asked," says Cooper, who adds that the debate has the potential to be unpredictable.

"There are surprises, and they're things that wouldn't normally be asked. And you think there are questions going to be asked one way, and then it changes at the end."

Indeed the tone of the questioners, the production gimmicks used, and the topics addressed set up the potential for a compelling conversation. (Check out The Post's Jose Antonio Vargas' favorite questions, and those called out by Jeff Jarvis and Peter Hauck of PrezVid.com here here and here.)

Cooper says he's personally committed to giving the people their say. "These are smart questions, and people are clearly living these topics. It's not just theoretical question, or an academic discussion. These are people that are very passionate about this topic. I want to make sure that this debate honors them, and honors the time they took to make these questions," he says.

If the candidates are nervous about the new format, Cooper says, "Our advice to them, and our advice to anybody is, if you want to see the videos, go to YouTube. ... We're not going to give them any head's up. ... I think the fact that they're not sure what to expect is a good thing, and I think will make it interesting."

The debate is Monday night on CNN. We'll have live-blogging coverage and we'll post all the questions asked during the debate. We welcome your comments on the debate, and all other topics, in the comments section below.

-- Ed O'Keefe

By Ed O'Keefe |  July 20, 2007; 11:55 AM ET Debates
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Posted by: newbievids | July 22, 2007 4:09 AM

Posted by: newbievids | July 22, 2007 4:10 AM

"Honoring ordinary citizens" sounds so... Soviet, and it's clear the "debate" will be along the same lines.

Instead of asking questions that will make the candidates defend their policies, most of the questions that are asked will simply allow the candidates to replay their stump speeches. The rest will be jokes (I predict 3 bemasked questioners, and one animated character) designed to make the internet look like the home of fools as contrasted with real "journalists" like Cooper.

Here's an example of the type of question that Cooper and CNN don't have the guts to ask:


Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | July 22, 2007 7:42 PM

Live-blogging this tonight will be a true public service, especially appreciated by us without access to cable TV. Thanks in advance, Ed and WaPo!

Posted by: jhbyer | July 23, 2007 11:05 AM

It is easy to talk about improving medical care for children, enable more young people to attend college, reduce the spread of pollution, etc. All of these are worthy goals. However, how will they be paid for if, as I suspect, raising taxes is not an acceptable topic.

Please, somebody, get real. This nation is deep in debt. Figures I have read claim each and every citizen's share of the burden amounts to anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to as much as $100,000. Isn't it time to come up with a sensible tax policy, one that takes from each according to ability to pay without any loopholes that protect not only super rich individuals but allow many corporations to pay few if any taxes?

Posted by: Merrill C. Horine | July 23, 2007 2:17 PM

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