Last summer, after watching and writing about the Democratic presidential debate held at the Yearly Kos (now called Netroots Nation) convention in Chicago, I wrote an article saying that the public really asks better -- and even more interesting -- questions of the candidates than our professional news media. And that was long before the now infamous Gibson-Stephanopoulos Massacre here in Philly.

Comes now Eric Boehlert with the case for getting the media out of the proposed Obama-McCain town hall meetings, and much of the rest of the race, too. He notes that the two candidates rejected an ABC News offer to hold a town hall meeting with the glitzy Diane Sawyer as moderator, that would only be broadcast on ABC and not any other outlet:

Specifically, the message from both of the campaigns, the blog reader, and the actress was the same regarding presidential forums and debates: We need to see the candidates unfiltered, without high-paid journalists prancing around onstage, in mad pursuit of gotcha moments or spinning incidental debate encounters furiously afterward, and generally mucking everything up.
In other words, campaign journalism is dead. Maybe town hall forums and old-school debate formats, with a diminished role for the media, will save us this campaign cycle.
Editors, producers, reporters, and pundits have only themselves to blame as the campaigns move to shove the press to the sidelines -- a move that will likely be cheered by voters. Because, again, if we look at the primary season as the media's audition for the general election, the media failed miserably.

Read the whole thing, it's long but quite good. I would add -- and I know Eric would agree -- that there is still a huge role for the media to play in this election, and that is the oft-ignored job of investigative reporter. For some reason, the one thing that could add the most value to the 2008 election is the thing that the media has cut back on the most.