Dan Rather had it right years ago when he was a CBS News anchor.
He refused to call these political encounters featuring two or more candidates for public office “debates.” He referred to them — and perhaps he still does — as “joint appearances.”
So it is tonight when 10 Democrats stand shoulder-to-shoulder on a stage in Houston. They’ll field questions from ABC News broadcast journalists.
They aren’t participating in what we learned in high school and college as debates.
All of these events, and those that occurred for election cycles dating back to the dawn of the Television Age, have been simply “joint appearances.”
I concede that I have lapsed into using the term “debate” to describe these events. It’s easier to type than “joint appearances.” That’s my bad. It’s an excuse, not a reason to misidentify what we’ve been watching since 1960.
This might seem trivial. I’m just going to refrain from this moment forward from referring to these televised events as debates … when they’re merely joint appearances.