“Villainous and shameful.” That characterization of CNN’s performance as moderator for the latest debate among the candidates for the Democratic nomination for president was written, not by President Trump, not by Fox News, and not by a random conservative-leaning political pundit, but by “Rolling Stone.” The focus was on the question of whether or not Bernie Sanders had said to Elizabeth Warren that a woman could not win a presidential election. RS, as most of you know, is a far left publication, so the foregoing analysis carries some significance. Why did the RS reporter say that? Read on.
Full disclosure, I didn’t watch the debate. I find them unwatchable. The candidates don’t discuss the issues in any meaningful way, nor do they differentiate themselves on policy; they spend most of their time attacking President Trump, which I understand, but, after a while, it gets old. Furthermore, the poor ratings indicate I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Be that as it may, I, like most of you, have seen and heard the salient points of the Sanders-Warren disagreement, which was the primary takeaway from the debate, on multiple news outlets. To me, there are two key elements to it:
- Did Sanders say it, and
- the manner in which CNN’s debate moderator, Abby Phillip, framed the question about it to Sanders and Warren.
As we know, debate moderators have one main job – to be impartial. Read how Phillip framed the questions to Sanders and Warren, and you tell me whether or not she was impartial.
To Sanders: “CNN reported yesterday – and [both] Senator Sanders [and] Senator Warren confirmed in a statement – that in 2018 you told her you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?” This is like the silly and humorous question: “When did you stop beating your wife?” Obviously, the question was highly prejudicial as Sanders has vehemently denied saying it and there is no definitive evidence he did so. Phillip should have said: “Did you say that?” As if that weren’t enough, Phillip compounded her error by asking Warren: “What did you think when Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”
As support for his strong denial, Sanders pointed out that he had actually urged Warren to run as early as 2016. In addition, there is a published video in which he stated the opposite, namely, that a woman COULD become president.
According to RS, CNN reporter M. L. Lee broke the story on the evening before the debate. Supposedly, it was based on “the accounts of four people, two [of which] Warren spoke with directly and two [others who were] familiar with the meeting.” The trouble is that only Sanders and Warren were in the meeting. Therefore, it is apparent that all four individuals had the same source – Warren. CNN is famous (or rather notorious) for this kind of “circular reporting” and innuendos by “anonymous sources,” which never seem to be verified. (For example, see reports of WMD during the Bush 43 administration and “Russiagate” over the past three years, among many others.)
So, what we have is a basic he said-she said. Whom should we believe? Sanders, despite many of his cockamamie political beliefs, strikes me as fairly honest (for a politician). What you see is what you get. Warren, on the other hand, has been caught in several disingenuous statements and outright lies. For example, she has falsely claimed Native American heritage, and she falsely claimed she was fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant. Moreover, she has tried to hide the fact that her “Medicare for all” plan would necessitate a tax increase on the middle class as well as on the wealthy.
Even the “NY Times” was critical of the name calling and animosity. Reporters Reid Epstein, Sydney Ember and Alexander Burns said each called the other a “liar,” and opined that the incident has “cast doubt” on whether the two can “unite the Dem Party’s liberal wing.”
Due to the foregoing, absent definitive proof to the contrary, I would have to believe Sanders. I don’t think it will matter anyway. Sanders has his hardcore plurality of supporters who will support him to the end, and Warren’s candidacy is fading under the weight of her questionable character. The latest Real Clear polls report Warren running fourth in New Hampshire, not a good sign as it is a neighboring state to her home state of Massachusetts, and tied for third in Iowa. Moreover, her funding is drying up. Sanders is ahead of her in both states and has been raising significant amounts of money.
The larger point, in my view, is that it appears that the wealthy and influential Dem Party insiders and major donors, who strongly oppose Sanders’ socialist philosophies and policies, are growing fearful that he could actually win the nomination, and they are attempting to damage him to prevent it. Many of Sanders’ supporters were convinced their man was denied the nomination unfairly in 2016, and they fear a reprise in 2020. They were right then, and they’re probably right now. In 2016 many of them stayed home or voted for Trump or a third party candidate, such as Jill Stein. They may do the same in 2020.
CNN, living up to its reputation as a virtual extension of the Dem Party, is on board with the plan. For example, in addition to Phillip, the biased moderator, listen to Van Jones: “There was a banana peel sent out there for Bernie to step on…. I think [he] stepped on it…. [Warren] knocked that moment out of the park.” For similar comments by other CNN commentators tune into the channel at random any time any day. There is a feeling in some quarters that CNN’s commentators get their marching orders from Jeff Zucker daily. If so, this would be an example.
It is also a perfect example of “fake news” for which the liberal media is well known. No wonder the public hates and mistrusts the media.
It will be very interesting to see how this story develops. Will the candidates mend their fences and focus on their real enemy, President Trump? Or, is it a portent of further conflicts as the campaign moves to the primaries phase and the pressure ratchets up?
Here’s a novel idea for the Dems. How about focusing on the issues that really matter to voters, such as the economy, jobs, infrastructure, healthcare, border security and foreign affairs. Instead of wasting your time and our money trying to remove Mr. Trump via impeachment, which will never happen, try to do it the tried and true way, by winning an election.