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CNN's Three-Hour Republican Candidate 'Town Hall' Meeting a Markedly All-White Affair Tuesday Night
March 30, 2016  | By Ed Bark
 

Here’s the minority report from CNN’s three-hour Republican presidential candidate “town hall” meeting Tuesday night.

There weren’t any, despite the downtown Milwaukee venue. Mind you, this isn’t Mayberry. This is a city that according to the 2010 census is 40 percent black and 17 percent Hispanic.

In order of appearance, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and John Kasich took a total of 26 questions from the audience gathered at the ornate Riverside Theater. Upon further review of the videotape, white men asked 19 of them and white women the other seven. Moderator Anderson Cooper also sparred with the candidates.

A CNN spokesperson has not returned a message asking whether the network had any role in trying to make the event more “inclusive.” In wide shots, it appeared that there perhaps were no minorities in the audience or among the small group of potential voters seated onstage behind the candidates. But networks have ways of enabling diversity if they choose. They also pre-select the questioners.

A follower on Twitter said Wednesday, “My friend, a minority, was there & submitted a question but wasn’t ‘chosen.’ “ Several dairy farmers made the cut, though. Presumably their properties are located somewhere outside downtown Milwaukee.

After the debate, CNN’s one-hour analysis of the three-hour event made no mention of the town hall meeting’s complete lack of diversity. Didn’t this dawn on any of them, including outspoken host Don Lemon, who is African-American?

I’m not trying to be the Great White Father here. But from a purely pragmatic standpoint, “the Party of Abraham Lincoln” (as contemporary candidates are fond of saying) ill-served itself Tuesday night. The eventual Republican nominee cannot win a general election by relying virtually exclusively on the white vote. Those days are gone. One would think that the campaign staffs of Cruz, Trump and Kasich would be conscious of this and find at least a relative handful of blacks or Hispanics willing to attend the three-hour town hall meeting. They must be out there somewhere, and it’s likely that CNN would have been more than happy to put at least a few on-camera as questioners. Without any such representation, CNN also looks bad in the overall scheme of things.

What occurred Tuesday night came off as a turn-back-the-clock throwback to the 1950s and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency. I can’t remember the last time a nationally televised town hall meeting entertained 26 questions without a single glimpse of a person of color. The Republican Party is free to put out any image it chooses. But from any angle, this was not a good look.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

 
 
 
 
 
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