Thursday, April 12, 2007

Commentator's Dilemma

Tonight Larry Kudlow discussed the firing of Don Imus and the quality of media debates. Paraphrasing, Kudlow asked if civilized, adult debate possible. Can we evade name calling, slurs, and low brow "arguments"? Can debates, especially in the political sector, become conversations and not yelling matches?

The whole thing is classic prisoner's dilemma. If two pundits agree to be civil, then there's a lot to gain for the defector. If one person is trying to keep the conversation high brow while the other calls him a jerk, then, to many people, the former looks soft and the latter looks like she knows what she's talking about. So they both act like jerks.

One way to get out of this dilemma is to force people to respect each other: introduce a moderator. But good luck finding someone who can be trusted to be neutral about such high-profile issues.

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