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CNNís Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful
Rolling Stone ^ | JANUARY 15, 2020 | MATT TAIBBI

Posted on 01/16/2020 1:06:09 PM PST by Mount Athos

CNN debate moderator Abby Phillip asked Bernie Sanders in the Tuesday debate in Des Moines:

“CNN reported yesterday — and Senator Sanders, 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?”

Not “did you say that,” but “why did you say that?”

Sanders denied it, then listed the many reasons the story makes no sense: He urged Warren herself to run in 2016, campaigned for a female candidate who won the popular vote by 3 million votes, and has been saying the opposite in public for decades. “There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States,” he said.

Phillip asked him to clarify: He never said it? “That is correct,” Sanders said. Phillip turned to Warren and deadpanned: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

That “when” was as transparent a media “fuck you” as we’ve seen in a presidential debate. It evoked memories of another infamous CNN ambush, when Bernard Shaw in 1988 crotch-kicked Mike Dukakis with a question about whether he’d favor the death penalty for someone who raped and murdered his wife, Kitty.

This time, the whole network tossed the mud. Over a 24-hour period before, during, and after the debate, CNN bid farewell to what remained of its reputation as a nonpolitical actor via a remarkable stretch of factually dubious reporting, bent commentary, and heavy-handed messaging.

The cycle began with a “bombshell” exposé by CNN reporter MJ Lee. Released on the eve of the debate, Lee reported Warren’s claim that Sanders told her a woman couldn’t win in a December 2018 meeting.

Lee treated the story as fact, using constructions such as, “Sanders responded that he did not think a woman could win,” and “the revelation that Sanders expressed skepticism that Warren could win.”

Lee said “the conversation” opened a window into “the role of sexism and gender inequality in politics”: The conversation also illustrates the skepticism among not only American voters but also senior Democratic officials that the country is ready to elect a woman as president …

Although Lee said she based the story on “the accounts of four people,” they were “two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter,” and “two people familiar with the meeting.” There were only two people in the room, Sanders and Warren. Lee’s “four people” actually relied on just one source, Warren.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same construction that’s driven countless other shaky stories in the past, from WMD reports to Russiagate speculations. An unconfirmable hearsay story is conveyed by one source, who gives the reporter the numbers of two or three other people in the office who’ve heard the same tale from the same place. Voilà: A one-source pony is now factual “according to several people familiar with the matter.”

CNN hyped the “feud” between Sanders and Warren the whole day before the debate. “This is a heavyweight match tonight. This is going to be frisky, it’s going to be competitive,” former DNC chair and commentator Terry McAuliffe said. This was the ratings-humping aspect of this gross episode.

On The Lead With Jake Tapper — where the anchor was forced to play devil’s advocate and bring up the “did it even happen?” question — there was scoffing about the senator’s denials. Here’s an exchange between Tapper and Hilary Rosen, a longtime Democratic strategist:

Jake Tapper: Hilary, let me start with you. The explanation that we heard from the Sanders campaign last night was basically, ‘Look, they got their wires crossed.’… What Senator Sanders was trying to say was Trump will exploit misogyny and sexism and make it difficult for a woman to win. Hilary Rosen: Yes. Jake Tapper: He wasn’t saying he doesn’t believe a woman will win. Hilary Rosen: What they were saying is the little lady misunderstood. [Laughter]

The debate preview show hosted by Anderson Cooper and featuring the likes of McAuliffe, former Clinton comms person Jess McIntosh, and former senior adviser to Barack Obama David Axelrod, was full of hand-wringing about how the Democratic Party is moving too far to the left. Panelists worried aloud about how more “moderate” candidates like Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and Amy Klobuchar (the recipient of obsessive attention within media circles despite a comically consistent absence of real-people support) might get traction through the debate.

A consistent question was whether Warren would “engage” Sanders on the “women can’t win” story, or whether someone else like Klobuchar might:

Gloria Borger: In the fight between, you know, between Warren and Sanders over gender and whether he told her that a woman couldn’t win, I don’t think they’re going to engage on that tonight. That took place — Anderson Cooper: Governor McAuliffe was out here earlier saying that he thinks they may not engage on it, but that Senator Klobuchar … David Axelrod: Yes, I think that’s right. I think that’s right.

Sanders wasn’t always mentioned by name in exchanges about the party’s unfortunate extremist drift, but we know who Axelrod was talking about when he suggested that Klobuchar or Buttigieg might say, “We can talk about Medicare for All. But here on planet Earth …”

Of course, there were times when Sanders was mentioned, like when Dana Bash offered this gibberishy mouthful about the “commander-in-chief test”:

Do [voters] want a Bernie Sanders anti-interventionist, or do they want somebody who has experience and who has — as I’m sure you will hear behind us — voted for things like the Iraq war and maybe has made other decisions that he doesn’t regret and has been a leader on national security, but also has some that he does?

CNN factory-produces these banal meanderings, worrying over the chances of establishment candidates and how they might overcome the irrational urges of the electorate (“It’s head or heart,” as Bash put it). It’s elite messaging in numbing quantity, to the point where you feel like screaming, “We get it!”

This continued during the debate, with the chryon featuring questions like, “How will [Sanders] avoid bankrupting the country?” Or: “Does Sanders owe voters an explanation of how much his health plan will cost them and the country?”

After Phillip pulled the “When Sanders said that horrible thing we can’t prove happened, how did you feel?” trick with Warren, she moved to Klobuchar, who by coincidence was the person panelists predicted might “go for the jugular” over this story: “Senator Klobuchar,” Phillip said, “What do you say to people who say a woman can’t win the election?” Again, the sleazy construction of the question presupposed that someone actually did say it.

I wondered online how long it would take for someone after the debate to declare Klobuchar the winner. It turned out to be the very first comment on Anderson Cooper’s wrap-up show, from Gloria Borger: “Well, I think that Amy Klobuchar tried her hardest to distinguish herself as a pragmatist who can tell the rest of the Democrats to get real.”

Then McIntosh said this: I think what Bernie forgot was that this isn’t a he said/she said story. This is a reported-out story that CNN was part of breaking. So, to have him just flat-out say no, I think wasn’t — wasn’t nearly enough to address that for the women watching.

Poor Anderson Cooper was forced to intercede and point out that it literally is a he said/she said story (and not remotely “reported out,” I might add). Soon after, Bash said it was an “out-of-the-park moment” for Warren, adding that the story was a litmus test for gender solidarity:

And so she is trying to use that moment and explain why, not just a woman, but her as the woman in that position, should be really seriously considered. And it was a clever way of doing it because she also brought in the other woman on the stage, almost — a sister in solidarity.

Rounding out the cycle of completely predictable messaging, Van Jones said, “There was a banana peel sent out there for Bernie to step on when he came with his comments about women. I think Bernie stepped on it and slid around.” He concluded, “[Warren] knocked that moment out of the park.”

After the debate, Trump fans online were in full schadenfreude mode, crowing about how “the left” finally understood that CNN really is fake news. Overall, #CNNisgarbage trended and #fuckCNN wasn’t far behind.

If the network doesn’t see trouble in this, it’s delusional. Voters on both sides of the aisle have changed since the Bernard Shaw days. They pay more attention to media manipulations, and it doesn’t get much more manipulative than punching above the facts to advance transparent political narratives, which is a new and accepted habit in the commercial news landscape.

We’ll find out in Iowa and New Hampshire what Democratic Party voters believe about that Warren-Sanders meeting, but that grimy story pales in comparison to the bigger picture: Episodes like this are why people hate the media.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; Russia; US: Massachusetts; US: Vermont
KEYWORDS: 2020election; berniesanders; clintonnonnews; cnn; crapnewsnetwork; debates; democrats; dnctalkingpoint; dnctalkingpoints; election2020; elizabethwarren; fauxahontas; hiddenagenda; leasttrustedname; massachusetts; matttaibbi; media; mediawingofthednc; msm; notobjective; partisanmediashills; presstitutes; rollingstone; russia; slingingbull; smearmachine; taibbi; vermont
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1 posted on 01/16/2020 1:06:09 PM PST by Mount Athos
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To: Mount Athos

I see Taibibi is a Bernie Bro.


2 posted on 01/16/2020 1:07:22 PM PST by KC_Conspirator
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To: Mount Athos

SUDDENLY ... the left notices that the dying lying leftist Democrat fake stream enemedia promotes propaganda, lies, and rumors ... but ONLY after those techniques have been applied to one of their own ...


3 posted on 01/16/2020 1:08:53 PM PST by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: catnipman

Exactly. This jackass writer didn’t need to go back to the 80s and 90s to find other examples.

The entire 2016 debate series was entirely tilted in the drunken pantsuit’s favor.


4 posted on 01/16/2020 1:11:39 PM PST by ConservativeWarrior (Fall down 7 times, stand up 8. - Japanese proverb)
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To: catnipman

Not suddenly. Talibi has been writing about press malfeasance (including specifically around the Russia-gate hoax) for years.


5 posted on 01/16/2020 1:15:06 PM PST by edwinland
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To: ConservativeWarrior

Talibi has been writing about press malfeasance (including specifically around the Russiagate hoax) for many years. Is there something in this article specifically that you think marks him out as a jackass? Or maybe it was this article:

Matt Talibi, 2019:

“The Press Will Learn Nothing From the Russiagate Fiasco”

The inability to face the enormity of the last few years of errors will cost the news media its credibility, even with blue-state audiences.


6 posted on 01/16/2020 1:18:36 PM PST by edwinland
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To: Mount Athos
I heard on some show that 10% of Bernie supporters voted for Trump in 2016.

I see that number increasing in 2020.

7 posted on 01/16/2020 1:30:47 PM PST by CaptainK ('No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker')
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To: edwinland

Going over the article again, it’s not as partisan as my first impression.

I guess seeing “Rolling Stone” and more of the same Bernie bro incredulity spread all over the web today made me assume this was just another rant on CNN by someone who had previously been willfully oblivious of the media’s bias against Donald J.

The bone he throws to “Trump fans” was also a tiny little morsel.


8 posted on 01/16/2020 1:31:45 PM PST by ConservativeWarrior (Fall down 7 times, stand up 8. - Japanese proverb)
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To: ConservativeWarrior

Agreed. I had a subscription to Rolling Stone for many years and cancelled it when they went hard left and also their sister publication US Weekly ran a full on hit piece on Sarah Palin.

But I’ve been following Talibi’s writing for a while — he is very left but actually independent and believes in journalism. I’d happily trade the egregious and pretend nonpartisan press we have today for an officially leftist but honest press full of Talibis.


9 posted on 01/16/2020 1:36:47 PM PST by edwinland
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To: edwinland

I’d happily trade the egregious and pretend nonpartisan press we have today for an officially leftist but honest press full of Talibis.


Haha... agreed. I’d much prefer a leftist media that is honest about who they are.

Reminds me of the scene in the Godfather where Michael Corleone tells his dirtbag brother-in-law:

“Only don’t tell me you’re innocent. Because it insults my intelligence. Makes me very angry.”


10 posted on 01/16/2020 1:41:11 PM PST by ConservativeWarrior (Fall down 7 times, stand up 8. - Japanese proverb)
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To: ConservativeWarrior

Excellent!


11 posted on 01/16/2020 1:43:07 PM PST by edwinland
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To: Mount Athos

Rolling Stoned just now discovers CNN is fake news exemplified?


12 posted on 01/16/2020 1:52:06 PM PST by doorgunner69 (Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading - T Jefferson)
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To: Mount Athos

CNN is fake news. Trump told you so.


13 posted on 01/16/2020 1:55:52 PM PST by MeganC (There is nothing feminine about feminism.)
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To: Mount Athos

Didn’t see or hear of anything unusual by CNN ... pretty much the same old Cretin News Network.


14 posted on 01/16/2020 2:04:21 PM PST by RetiredTexasVet
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To: Mount Athos

CNN thumb on the scale—nah, impossible! ;-)


15 posted on 01/16/2020 2:14:44 PM PST by cgbg (The Democratic Party is morphing into the Donner Party)
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To: Mount Athos

That debate would have been fun to watch. However, I was watching the Trump rally.


16 posted on 01/16/2020 2:18:56 PM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: doorgunner69

They knew all along and were good with it. It’s just that now it hurts a leftist politician.


17 posted on 01/16/2020 2:19:44 PM PST by MRadtke (Light a candle or curse the darkness?)
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To: Mount Athos

American Gynomedia always favors the woman. Always.

Women this is the shiite you don’t understand because you don’t get this kind of treatment from our gynosociety.


18 posted on 01/16/2020 3:10:38 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (Gone Galt; Not Averse to Going Bronson.)
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To: Mount Athos

For once I’d like to see a real debate instead of a poor imitation of a game show.

The moderator only jobs would be time keeper, microphone controller and fight breaker upper.

Anyone on the ballot would be allowed to participate.

Order of speaking would be by lots at the beginning of each round.

There would be 3 rounds with candidates speaking about anything they want.

Each candidate would have 5 minutes per round.

only the mic of the candidate whose turn it is would be on.

The stage would be dark except for the candidate whose turn it is would be well lit.


19 posted on 01/16/2020 4:07:12 PM PST by fella ("As it was before Noah so shall it be again,")
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To: Mount Athos

Bernie got treated like a Repub for a night. How horrible.


20 posted on 01/16/2020 4:27:59 PM PST by bray (Pray for President Trump)
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