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News Media, Rick Tyler and Renewing Poltical Debate

October 19, 2007

Rick Tyler, press secretary for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, spoke today in our Dissident Media class at American University.

Currently Tyler is working as a senior partner at Chesapeake Associates, a professional campaign consulting firm based in Washington D.C. He has experience working with various politicians, and thus plenty of experience working with the media.

Mr. Tyler addressed several issues of importance to modern American society; his main focus was identical to the focus of our blog, how do we renew real, open political debate in today’s society? He described the current political debates as “Nine candidates lining up like seals waiting for the commentator to throw a fish.” Mr. Tyler felt current debating rules need to be changed. He mentioned that currently the rule book contains some 39 pages of regulations, which include rules as to the type of pencil a candidate may use. “These candidates are basically applying to be the leader of the free world,” Mr. Taylor said, adding that 30 seconds for a candidate to discuss his views on the Iraq War is not nearly enough. Mr. Tyler instead recommended having two candidates, preferably from different parties so a sense of bi-partisanship can be achieved, placed on stage together for a ninety minute discussion. The moderator would play a small part, more of a time-keeper than a mediator.

Mr. Tyler also addressed the role the media plays in our current political atmosphere. Clearly, the media plays an important role in our society, and Mr. Taylor suggested using that to our advantage. One specific example he gave of how to use the media to the average voters’ advantage was to institute a weekly blind poll. Candidates’ stances on the important issues would be collected and each week a poll would be published that voters could take to see which candidate’s platform they are most closely aligned with. The media would then announce the results of these blind polls at the end of each week to see who had been the most successful. This would give voters more of a voice within the political sphere, as candidates would have to adjust their platforms to appeal to a wider audience.

To conclude Mr. Tyler discussed the importance of frank debate to America. Mr. Tyler said he feels that without real debate America will eventually fall apart. I would tend to agree our guest speaker’s views, unless some changes are enacted, and some form of real debate is achieved, American society will suffer.

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