How the annoying "diamonds or pearls" debate question came about

To close the most recent Democratic candidates’ debate, a female student in the audience asked Hilary Clinton which she prefers, diamonds or pearls (Clinton laughed and said “both”). Watching the debate, I wondered what sort of person would ask a question that asinine.1

As it turns out, the answer is: an ordinary, serious person, who had wanted to ask a real question but was told not to by CNN’s decision-makers.

A former illegal immigrant whose parents clean and do laundry for Las Vegas hotels, she attends a UNLV honors program on scholarship and work-study programs. Two summers ago, she interned for Senator Harry Reid; last summer, she won a fellowship in public policy at Princeton. She wants to be an immigration lawyer when she’s older.[...]

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. (No such question was.) 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.

CNN, of course, has defended the question by pointing out that Parra-Sandoval wrote it herself, as if CNN had nothing to do with it. Oy.

  1. I think the “boxers or briefs” question is asinine, too. []
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14 Responses to How the annoying "diamonds or pearls" debate question came about

  1. 1
    Mandolin says:

    I wonder what would have happened if she’d said “fuck it” and asked her child care question.

  2. 2
    TLB says:

    There’s much more to this story, including a CNN-approved lie and their failure to indicate affiliations of some of the questioners.

  3. 3
    Kevin Moore says:

    But the candidate’s response reveals so much about their character. Like, a boxers person is concerned with comfort and warmth, and perhaps a little modesty, while a briefs person wants their junk all squeezed up their taint, which is just nasty.

    And if diamonds are a girl’s best friend and pearls are forever, or – wait, diamonds are forever, too, but pearls are more matronly and sophisticated, so Hillary showed how her preference for both is the perfect example of triangulation AND betrayal! She totally stabbed diamonds in the back! Some “best friend”!

    Yeah, but seriously, damn lame.

  4. 4
    Jim says:

    Right question, wrong person to ask. She should have asked Edwards just to watch him squirm.

  5. 5
    Jamila Akil says:

    I wonder what would have happened if she’d said “fuck it” and asked her child care question.

    I was wondering the same thing. And I wish that’s what she would have done.

  6. 6
    NotACookie says:

    Mandolin wrote:

    I wonder what would have happened if she’d said “fuck it” and asked her child care question.

    Hmm. I suspect nothing terrible would have happened to her. CNN doesn’t have secret police after all, and can’t punish her — I suspect a lawsuit premised on “we had an unofficial secret understanding that she’d ask X” would be laughed out of court, and seriously damaging to CNN.

    Actually, I wonder why she didn’t ask what she wanted. I assume that this sort of question-fixing is common, and what’s unusual is that it came out this time. So that suggests that most people are willing to ask inane questions at the behest of TV producers, which is a truly odd thing, when you think about it. College students aren’t known for being blind followers.

  7. 7
    Mandolin says:

    Well, I wonder whether they would have found a way not to air it.

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  9. 8
    Daran says:

    But the candidate’s response reveals so much about their character. Like, a boxers person is concerned with comfort and warmth, and perhaps a little modesty, while a briefs person wants their junk all squeezed up their taint, which is just nasty.

    I wore briefs for no other reason than that they were what my mum gave me.

    I blame the Matrinurtury.

  10. 9
    Tom Nolan says:

    I wear briefs because my penis doesn’t feel so small when I do. I sleep in them for that reason.

  11. 10
    sylphhead says:

    “But the candidate’s response reveals so much about their character. Like, a boxers person is concerned with comfort and warmth, and perhaps a little modesty, while a briefs person wants their junk all squeezed up their taint, which is just nasty.”

    Oh, I disagree that boxers are necessarily more modest, especially when your pants are casual fit and the top two inches of your boxers are bunched up in a little inner tube of underwear above your beltline. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except when your publicly displayed boxers in question has cartoon characters drawn on it.

    Then again, I want to have sperm, so the public be damned.

    “Right question, wrong person to ask. She should have asked Edwards just to watch him squirm.”

    What?

  12. 11
    RonF says:

    Then again, I want to have sperm, so the public be damned.

    My personal experience is that this is a myth. I’ve always worn briefs, and my wife got pregnant with little trouble both times that we decided we wanted kids. Has there ever been a study of actual outcomes on boxers vs. briefs?

  13. 12
    PG says:

    If I were going to ask an impudent personal question of Sen. Clinton, it would be, “Do you ever regret having put your own political career on hold to support your husband’s, or do you think of your time as First Lady as part of your political career?”

  14. 13
    Kevin Moore says:

    OMG – That would be a great question! You’d get a momentary facial twitch, then instant gracious smile as she ends the interview and scuttles away.