From TPM Reader JA
The post on Nash McCabe reminded me of a couple earlier debates, the MoveOn Town Hall events, where citizen questions were alternated with questions from Eli Pariser, all on one topic that had been selected by member vote. The second was the YKos debate, which also featured citizen questions.
In both cases, citizens asked questions that weren't obvious or oriented toward sound bytes. They were the kinds of questions that would not, for whatever reason, be asked by these tv moderators. Moreover, these were their questions. In this case, the producers put the producers' question into the mouth of a voter, because it made the question seem more authentic, as if people care in large numbers about the flag pin question. That is, the woman was used to legitimize the traditional media's focus on these frankly trivial and, yes, distracting issues.
So it's not just bad that they sought out someone to ask the question, but that they did it in order to avoid asking the question themselves because, you know, it's sort of embarrassing. It's not about content; it's about TV content and TV optics. There's no way for Gibson to ask that without looking petty and stupid. So they used this woman.
I think McCabe's question stands out more than the citizen question for Hillary on Bosnia because the moderators spent so much time going at him with other gotcha question. But I think the above applies equally to Hillary's question. The point of using a voter was that Gibson would have been embarrassed, and rightly so, to have asked that question himself.