In an analysis of 14 presidential debate transcripts, two thirds of accusations of question-dodging had no merit. Christopher Intagliata reports.
This campaign season, there's been plenty of name calling and lots of accusations. David Clementson, a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University, has been keeping tabs. "I mean there was one debate where Rubio and Cruz were just all over Trump, accusing him of dodging questions."
[DEBATE CLIP: Rubio: "But that doesn't answer the question." TRUMP: "He didn't answer…" // Rubio: "You have yet to answer a single serious question about any of this."]
Clementson wanted to see if claims of question dodging actually held up, historically—not necessarily in the unique case of Trump. So Clementson analyzed the transcripts of 14 presidential debates, from 1996 to 2012. Overall, he found 51 accusations of question dodging—26 by Dems, 25 by Republicans.
A third of the time, the accused candidate did in fact go off-topic. But in every single case, the accused candidate still mentioned the question topic. Meaning that most of the time, he says, candidates are unfairly accused of question-dodging. The results are in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology. [David E. Clementson, Why Do We Think Politicians Are So Evasive? Insight From Theories of Equivocation and Deception, With a Content Analysis of U.S. Presidential Debates, 1996–2012]
Clementson's advice for the next debate? "Just because a politician of your partisan affiliation or your party ID is telling you that the other guy can't be believed, doesn't necessarily mean that that politician is accurately detecting deception." In other words, don't trust 'em. Because the politician doing the accusing may be the one telling lies.
["Lying Ted.. he's a liar."]
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]