Vote on This, Wolf

On CNN’s “Late Edition” yesterday, Wolf Blitzer presented viewers with the “Web Question of the Week,” and invited them, as he does several times throughout his show, to vote online. This week’s question? “Do U.S. troops in Iraq have adequate resources?”

You there, sitting contentedly on your plush Pottery Barn sofa, in your expert opinion, are our soldiers properly equipped? Wolf Blitzer wants to know.

We understand that this is part of an effort to drive CNN viewers to the CNN Web site, to convert CNN watchers into CNN surfers and vice versa, and to make the CNN experience, you know, “interactive” and “synergistic” and other dated and increasingly meaningless buzzwords. And we understand the news hook in this case — in large part, the pointed questions Spc. Thomas Wilson and other soldiers in Iraq asked of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about why soldiers have to dig for scrap metal in order to armor their vehicles.

Back when CJR Daily was Campaign Desk, we noticed plenty of these asinine “Questions of the Day/Week,” largely on cable news shows (and their online counterparts), whereby viewers were asked to draw on their psychic powers to predict future events — “Will President Bush replace Vice President Cheney on the Republican ticket?” — or to weigh in on issues likely far above their pay grade like CNN’s question this week, or to voice their opinions on media-hyped non-issues — “Is John Kerry too French to be president of the United States?” (OK, so we invented these examples, but they’re certainly in ballpark.) And so, belatedly, we hereby begin what we envision to be an occasional feature, the award for the “Most Pointless Question of the Day/Week.”

We’re confident CNN won’t hold the honor alone for long.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.