Gary Johnson Crashes the N.H. Republican Debate

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The former governor didn't get an invite, so he sat alone in a room, answered the questions, and posted his answers to YouTube


It used to be that a YouTube presidential debate consisted of citizens uploading questions so that candidates could answer them. After being excluded from the GOP presidential primary debate held in New Hampshire on Tuesday, however, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson turned that model on its head, taking the questions from the televised event and splicing them together with answers he recorded and uploaded to the video sharing site. Unlike the other candidates, he got to answer every question!

This is interesting in that media organizations that host debates can no longer act as gatekeepers: CNN and the New Hampshire Union Leader thought Johnson didn't merit inclusion, but Will Wilkinson of The Economist disagreed, as did I, and we're free to embed his answers for our audiences. 

There are dozens of other lesser known candidates running for president. They aren't successful former two-term governors, and I'd never promise to embed video of their answers to debate questions. But do you know what? If another lesser known produced a 40 minute clip with answers so compelling that I thought they could go viral, or were worthy of wider attention, I'd totally hit the embed button again. And other journalists and indy-bloggers with different taste in candidates might exercise their own judgments and give wider attention to their own pols of choice. It isn't a perfect system, but compared to letting CNN makes the call it strikes me as an improvement. And one day, it might be a viable method for breaking into a race in a way never before seen.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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