Opinion Outpost: Nov. 3


The Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

GOP debate

The news business is in trouble and overt displays of media bias of the kind we witnessed (during the last GOP debate) are a big reason. Technology and changing lifestyles have fractured markets and wrecked revenues, but self-inflicted wounds compound the damage.

The moderators’ relentless badgering, arrogance and ignorance toward the GOP candidates was so bad that their performance was universally panned, no small feat at a time when the media, like everything else, is polarized. The tenor provoked astonishment over the failure of network brass to recognize the black eye coming its way.

— Michael Goodwin

New York Post

While I rarely like to let politicians off the hook for their own shortcomings, the responsibility for the failure of this debate really did begin and end with moderators … In a debate dedicated to economic issues, they chose to ask questions about fantasy football, repeatedly misrepresented candidates’ positions, and attempted to goad candidates into personal attacks. Yet they failed to even ask the candidates any serious questions about the global impact of China’s economic slide, the Trans-Pacific Partnership or Europe’s solvency issues. Worldwide business indeed.

We need good debates to hash out what I see as a potential revolution in American politics.

— Jean Card

U.S. News & World Report

There’s no question that the team at CNBC made a royal mess of the Republican presidential debate, but that’s no excuse for the Republican National Committee to “suspend” its participation with NBC in an upcoming debate and certainly no justification for candidates to complain about so-called “gotcha” questions.

… The reality is that all three candidates were caught shading or evading the truth during the debate — not because of “gotcha” questions, but in part because they, like the moderators, weren’t quite as prepared as they could and should have been.

… But no matter how clumsy CNBC’s preparation and execution, there’s no excuse for the RNC’s temper tantrum or the accusations of media bias from several of the candidates, such as Ted Cruz’s baseless slander that the CNBC panel was a group of “left-wing operatives” bent on harming the Republican Party.

Even if the Republican Party limits the number and format of future debates, the fundamentals won’t change: skillful and properly prepared moderators will manage to shine a light on things that some candidates would rather not discuss.

— Errol Lewis


Spring Valley High School

The white sheriff’s deputy whose brutal mishandling of the student at Richland County’s Spring Valley High School went viral on social media has understandably lost his job for use of excessive force. “Deputy [Ben] Fields did not follow proper training, did not follow proper procedure, when he threw the student across the room,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Wednesday. At the same time, though, the sheriff noted that when police are summoned by schools, there will be a law enforcement response.

That highlights the all-too-prevalent problem of schools escalating routine disciplinary infractions into criminal offenses, particularly when racial or ethnic minorities are involved. It is an issue that Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke eloquently about in September, when he detailed how schools that criminalize nonviolent student behavior only feed the school-to-prison pipeline.

—Editorial Board

The Washington Post

On the same day that President Barack Obama was expressing doubts that cellphone cameras are making police too cautious, video of a police officer in a South Carolina high school was going viral online because he failed to be cautious enough.

That’s not the only reason that video of Richland County sheriff’s Deputy Ben Fields’ rough takedown and arrest of an uncooperative 16-year-old girl in Spring Valley High School raised a national uproar.

The fact that he is white and the girl is black instantly became part of the ongoing national debate about how black people are treated by police.

I had an additional question as a black parent: What did the girl do to bring this trouble on herself?

But I raise the question as a black parent and a former black student whose own parents warned me to (1) obey my teachers and (2) don’t go asking for a smackdown from police.

By that simple standard, can we acknowledge that both the teen and the cop behaved badly?

— Clarence Page

Chicago Tribune

Witnesses claim the 16-year-old Spring Valley High student was on her cellphone in class, which happens every school day in most every school in America. How that escalated into a situation in which the girl was repeatedly told to leave the room, flipped onto her back and forcibly removed when she refused, and then charged criminally with “disturbing schools” is something educators across the country should consider before bringing an officer into the classroom.

— Tricia Bishop

The Baltimore Sun

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