There’s something so wrong about getting two female Senate candidates on a stage and then asking them, “have you read Fifty Shades of Grey?” as a real question in their only debate this election season. And yet that very thing happened Wednesday evening when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand met challenger Wendy Long at Skidmore University. Gillibrand is beating Long by 37 points right now, so it’s not like this debate had any great chance of shifting the course of the election. But that still doesn’t mean the organizers had to make a total mockery of the process.
The question, directed at Long, came from Liz Benjamin, the host of Capital Tonight on YNN, which sponsored the debate, who didn’t sound terribly comfortable asking it. “Me neither, for the record,” she replied, after Long said she hadn’t read the book and Gillibrand just laughed. The question was part of a “lightning round” of yes-or-no questions that included “do you write your own tweets,” Policy Mic reported.
Asking if candidates write their own tweets may be minor, but at least it reveals some of their attitudes about how to handle their publicity and media. Asking if they’ve read Fifty Shades reveals no legitimate information at all and is at least trivial, if not outright sexist. Can you imagine a moderator asking Chuck Schumer and a male opponent the same thing? We can’t. Watch the video of the question being asked. Everyone in it laughs the laugh of people who know they are not living through one of their finer moments.