Maria Luisa, the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred "diamonds or pearls" at last night's debate wrote on her MySpace page this morning that CNN forced her to ask the frilly question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.
"Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by CNN," Luisa writes. "I was asked to submit questions including "lighthearted/fun" questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance."
Now, Luisa is getting "swamped" with critical e-mails.
So what happened?
"CNN ran out of time and used me to "close" the debate with the pearls/diamonds question. Seconds later this girl comes up to me and says, "you gave our school a bad reputation.' Well, I had to explain to her that every question from the audience was pre-planned and censored. That's what the media does. See, the media chose what they wanted, not what the people or audience really wanted. That's politics; that's reality. So, if you want to read about real issues important to America--and the whole world, I suggest you pick up a copy of the Economist or the New York Times or some other independent source. If you want me to explain to you how the media works, I am more than happy to do so. But do not judge me or my integrity based on that question."
Rivals to Clinton believe that the debate audience had a pro-Clinton tilt. UNLV was responsible for distributing most of the tickets.
In a separate post, Luisa provides the question she wanted to ask:
Yucca Mountain, NV is the proposed site for the country's nuclear waste
repository. Despite scientific evidence that it is a vulnerable site, the federal
government continues to push for the plan to move forward. The evidence
relied on is unsound and the risks involved in transporting high-level
radioactive waste across the country are high. What will you [Sen. Clinton] do to ensure that the best site/s is/are chosen for the storage of spent nuclear reactor fuel?
Sam Feist, the executive producer of the debate, said that the student was asked to choose another question because the candidates had already spent about ten minutes discussing Yucca Mountain.
"When her Yucca mountain question was asked, she was given the opportunity to ask another question, and my understanding is that the [diamond v. pearls] questions was her other question," Feist said. "She probably was disappointed, but we spent a lot of time with a bunch of different candidates on Yucca Mountain, and we were at the end of the debate."
Greg Sargent of TPM Election Central has a CNN spoxperson giving a slightly different story...