Value of TV faceoffs is just not debatable

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Value of TV faceoffs is just not debatable


The champion and challenger are getting ready for a match. As the bell signals the beginning of the first round, the challenger aggressively attacks and dominates. The champion was too busy playing defense to throw a punch. The first round ends with the champion crushed. He must have underestimated the challenger and was caught off guard. But his attitude changed completely, and he adopted the tried-and-true strategy of “offense is the best defense.” As a result, he made up won the second and third rounds. The television debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was a memorable match of arguments, not fists.

The purpose of the presidential debate is to dominate using logic and eloquent speech. A debate is fundamentally different from a discussion, where participants try to find common ground. A debate begins from convictions that your own opinions are right, while a discussion is based on a premise that you may be wrong. A discussion can have a conclusion, but there cannot be one for a debate. The audience determines which side wins. There are many people who confuse a debate with a discussion.

With some 50 days left till the presidential election, television features various political debate programs. I am impressed by the participants who stand in front of the camera and make arguments. Being quite inarticulate, I find it amazing that they are so eloquent.

Sometimes, friends ask me why I never make television appearances when I am an editorial writer for a major newspaper. But they have no idea how journalism works. Not all editorial writers are alike, and the ones who appear on television are generally admitted masters of the field. When master commentators get together and contend, the television debate becomes interesting and meaningful.

A debate is a battle of logic, wits, words and spirit. Viewers can see both the intelligence and personality of the debaters. You’d better have the audacity to endure the pressure. The people on television debates project confidence in their facial expressions and speech that they are the experts. Thanks to that confidence, they can proudly present their opinions without being intimidated by viewers. They are so confident that they cut into the other person’s speech and continue to unfold their arguments, even when the emcee gets involved. I am truly impressed when the debaters quickly make perfect comparisons and use appropriate examples, and have the tenacity to pick on the words of the opponent and the wit to dominate the debate with one cutting remark.

The first rule of the debate is to listen to the words of the other participant carefully. The key that can defeat the opponent can be found there. I want to watch a great television debate, where both participants are respectful and courteous to one another and make rigorous and logical arguments. I am tired of the debates dominated by someone who is shameless and speaks in loud voice.

* The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

by By Bae Myung-bok

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