COMMENTS: Sincerest Form

On ABC, Robert Krulwich has developed an idiosyncratic style for filing explainer pieces--his latest on Super Tuesday explained the delegate rules for each party--sporting a chatty, colloquial speaking style illustrated by quirky cartoon drawings. Well, Krulwich is not so idiosyncratic any more. CBS introduced its Fast Draw team of Josh Landis and Mitch Butler to explain how superdelegates work. And guess what? Landis and Butler use a chatty, colloquial speaking style illustrated by quirky cartoon drawings.

On the evidence of their first outing, Fast Draw has the format down but not the explaining part. The image they used to elucidate how superdelegates have a disproportionate and unaccountable influence on the otherwise democratic primary process of selecting a nominee actually contradicted their argument rather than explaining it. They called the superdelegates "wizards" who are "pulling the levers of power in your political party."

But the image they used to illustrate "wizards" was from Oz and the slogan they used was Pay no Attention to the Superdelegates Behind the Curtain.

Wrong! The point of the Oz story was that great and all-powerful wizardry was simply a veneer. The wizard was, in truth, a powerless charlatan, nothing more than a snake oil selling traveling medicine man. The point about the superdelegates is that they have more influence than they appear to, not less--that their public inactivity is a veneer for their active wheelerdealing behind the scenes.

When Krulwich uses a cartoon character and a jokey catchphrase, he uses apparent frivolity to explain something serious. Landis & Butler just left us with a sense of confusing fun.


You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.