- - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Crowd noise at presidential debates should be prohibited. Debates are an opportunity for the American people to learn about and compare the candidates. Cheering and booing from the crowd interferes with this purpose, and has adverse effects on the moderator, candidates and viewers.

Because of the interruptions, moderators and candidates have less time to ask and answer questions. Candidates may spend part of their allotted time to address the crowd rather than the question or issue posed. They may also lose their concentration or gear their answer toward getting a certain response from the crowd. The viewers, too, may be influenced by the crowd noise, rather than the candidates, thus defeating the debate’s goal of being an unbiased forum. Viewers may also become so irritated with the interruptions and the crowd’s attempt to influence the proceedings that they turn off the debate.

Lastly, the crowd noise cheapens the debate and lessens its dignity. One would expect the cheering and booing to occur at a high-school student council debate, not at a forum for the potential president of the United States.

MICHAEL ABRAMSON

Atlanta

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