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November 16, 2007

CNN forces "diamonds or pearls" question over Iraq and nuclear waste

Maria Luisa Parra-Sandoval, a political science student at the University of Nevada, has been skewered in the media and on the internet for asking Hillary Clinton the superficial question, “do you prefer diamonds or pearls?” at last night's Democratic presidential debate.  It turns out that she tried and failed to ask more substantive questions that were nixed by CNN:

Last week, CNN had contacted Ms. Parra-Sandoval, a political science student at University of Las Vegas-Nevada, through a professor, and asked her to submit a question. She wrote one about health care for children. CNN rejected it, calling it too similar to another question that would be asked. So she sent another, about Iraq. That was rejected too. On Wednesday, a CNN producer asked her for two final questions, one substantive and one light. Ms. Parra-Sandoval sent one about Yucca Mountain, the Nevada site under consideration as a storage facility for radioactive waste. With the deadline approaching, she stared at her computer screen. Noticing the pearl-pattern background on her MySpace page, she dashed off the jewelry one.

CNN asked her to come to the debate with both questions memorized. Two hours in, a producer whispered that she should ask the second one.

“Because I was on national TV, I felt hesitant, but then I felt like, ‘Oh my God, I’m on national TV, I’ll just ask it,’” Ms. Parra-Sandoval said.

Now Ms. Parra-Sandoval is being accused, by everyone from bloggers to fellow students, of asking an airheaded, sexist question. On her MySpace page and in a phone interview, she protested that she tried to ask several substantive questions but that CNN would only let her participate through a silly one.

As we’ve been saying through our Voters for Peace and Security campaign, this is a critical time for voters to have accurate information about the person who will steer our foreign policy for the next four years.  We need to know which candidates will leave residual forces in Iraq, and if they will exhibit leadership in creating a nuclear-free world, starting with stopping the development of new nuclear weapons. Rather than engaging young voters who have well-thought out questions, CNN is encouraging the proliferation of superficial “debate.” Click here to tell CNN you’re outraged at the disservice they have done Ms. Parra-Sandoval and the American public.

Cross-posted on Groundswell.


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