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Letters: Debates, yes, but answers too

September 28, 2012

Re "Why don't they just answer the question?," Opinion, Sept. 23

I was about 12 years old when I heard a debate on the radio that prompted me to ask my parents why the debaters didn't answer the questions. Fast-forward 61 years and the names and faces have changed, but a politician's refusal to respond to a question with a related and meaningful answer remains unchallenged.

As long as moderators remain fearful of appearing overly aggressive or mindful that a candidate may start refusing interview requests, a dumbed-down society that is more enamored of sound bites and reality shows will continue to be satisfied with evasion and subterfuge.

Mike Harvey

Irvine

In addition to posting the question on the screen to help the listeners be more aware if it has been answered or dodged, as Todd Rogers and Michael I. Norton suggest, the studio audience could be given a device with which to vote "answered" or "dodged" after each candidate's reply. Similarly, the TV audience could be given a phone number to call to report its reactions.

The tallies of both audiences would be reported at the end of the debate. Hopefully, this would result in more active listening by the audiences and more direct answering by the candidates.

Harriet Wertman

Pacific Palisades

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