It's a valid point. Despite CNN's full hype mode, these debates are decidedly not the equivalent of the televised Kennedy/Nixon debates. CNN will be picking the questions and you can bet good money that they'll be as lame and obvious as the usual debate questions. In essence, this won't be any different than the carefully orchestrated "town hall" type debates.
Kaus is still hoping for a miracle, though, urging CNN to "post all the competing videos on YouTube in a way that easily lets viewers pick the most popular, and commit CNN to broadcast, say, 20 questions from the top 40 submissions at random. No gatekeeping."
"A no-gatekeeper format really would be unprecedented," he writes, "and will terrify the candidates."
If only. But, as with 98% of the other efforts by the old-guard to embrace Web 2.0, this will be little more than a half-hearted attempt to gain street cred.