The conventional wisdom in the media about Presidential debate performances forms fairly quickly- within minutes of the debate having ended. Usually this is fed by only one measure- expectations.
For example, the media expectations for this Friday’s debate (if McCain un-suspends his campaign) are that Obama is not a strong debater and McCain does well. If these expectations are met or exceeded, it’s a win for McCain. If Obama is okay, it’s a win for him. Obama only needs to beat expectations, not actually be the better debater. The bar is higher for McCain.
The public has no way to affect the discourse on the debate. While the public are still gathering their thoughts after the debate, the cable news media starts pounding them with opinions and the conventional wisdom is formed by a few loud news analysts.
FreePress– a national, non-partisan, non-profit working to reform the media- has started RateTheDebates.org:
Sign up to Rate the Debates yourself and return here (www.freepress.net/debates) when they air to begin rating. Weâ€™ll tally your response along with thousands of others and inject our people-powered feedback into the news cycle – before the mainstream media pundits and spin doctors (mis)interpret the event.
Technology has given us the opportunityÂ to immediately insert ourselves in to the national discourse- but, for now, we need numbers to be taken seriously.