What Is is an oasis of intelligent, civil debate in a desert of rancor. We bring together subject matter experts in public policy, law, religion, and social issues, acting as the neutral turf on which they can engage each other in thoughtful, reasoned discourse.

We are an innovative combination of television content provider, news media outlet, debate society, social media network, educational resource, and public charity.

Why Support

The mission of is to dramatically improve the quality of public discourse in our society. Our aim is to interactively engage the public on controversial issues by promoting and facilitating not just debate but actual dialogue among experts of varying ideologies. Our goal is to become a trusted source on which all viewpoints can rely in order to obtain the credible information essential to forming knowledgeable opinions and taking democratic action on the important political, legal, religious and social issues of the day.

photo 1This is a tall order.

While on the one hand old media did a well enough job of informing and educating the electorate (at least for the interested), those companies were constrained by the limitations of their technologies and middle-man pressures and by the influences they faced as generally for-profit enterprises. These incentives produced the all-too-familiar distortions such as breathless appeal to the lowest common denominator, sensationalism, emphasis on negative rather than optimistic reporting, and, not least, dishonesty regarding claims of objectivity.

The inadequacies of the old media business model are most laid plan when it comes to the treatment of controversial issues. Viewpoints are presented as entrenched, inflexible, and polar dichotomies. Subtlety, complexity, nuance, and viewpoint evolution are neglected in favor of ad hominem attack, character assassination, and name calling. And even the most credible news outlets and television or cable programs tend to feature vocal opinion holders who do little more than shout at or past one another in a forum that scarcely resembles debate. Worse, even the highest profile example of contemporary debate—the series of presidential candidate debates—supposedly try to focus on issues but actually include very little in the way of mutual engagement.

Can one television show change all this?

No, it can’t.

What is needed is an entirely new approach to expert and audience engagement that incorporates emerging technologies to enable immersive interactivity. Not just debate, not just a statement of positions, but dialogue—that is, discourse.

The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner.

—John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

What Makes Unique?

Our debates have these characteristics:

  • Breadth. Our viewing audience is treated to all reasonable sides of a contentious issue. This differentiates us from other media outlets that deploy both favoritism and dishonesty about their bias.
  • Depth. We give our expert guests both the opportunity and the time they need to get beyond mere talking points and explain, concisely but in detail, the reasoning behind a position.
  • Focus. Public debates are often hampered by the overly broad topic selection that leads to shallow posturing. PublicSquare frames all of its debates around the narrowly defined yes/no questions that facilitate deeper discussion.
  • Insight. Under the guise of supposed debate, old model programs encourage dispute and conflict more for the heat of its entertainment value rather than the light of its edification. In contrast, we carefully enforce a civility that enables insightful opinion to be cogently expressed and politely challenged.
  • Engagement. Participants are encouraged both to respond and to ask each other questions. Our innovative real-time audience feedback system empowers the host to select questions from viewer social media participation to pose to panelists.

What Are People Saying About

hilden“Having both written for and read its debates with great enjoyment, I am very impressed by the way in which it presents thorough, insightful arguments from experts in the field with great seriousness and depth, even in an age of superficial coverage and soundbites. In sum, has brought back Lincoln-Douglas-style debate in the Internet age.”

— Julie Hilden

More testimonials here.