Can we stop calling the hosts of the presidential debates “moderators”? They’re left-erators. It’s time for the old-media godfathers to end the pretense that they’re fair and neutral observers of the American political scene. And it’s time for the GOP to stop perpetuating these rigged exercises in futility.
Last week, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the names of 2012’s chosen referees: CNN’s Candy Crowley, PBS’s Jim Lehrer, and CBS’s Bob Schieffer will preside over the three presidential debates; ABC’s Martha Raddatz will host the sole vice-presidential debate. The debate panel trumpeted the gender diversity of its picks, but the chromosomal diversity is far outweighed by the political uniformity, class conformity, and geographical homogeneity of the group.
Crowley has lived and worked in D.C. for liberal CNN for a quarter-century. Raddatz worked for liberal National Public Radio for five years before joining ABC News; she has been based in the D.C. bureau for the better part of a decade. Schieffer has been a fixture in the nation’s capital at CBS News, home of the faked Rathergate documents, for three decades. Lehrer, the liberal patriarch of PBS News, is nearly as aged a Beltway monument as the Washington Monument itself.
The presidential debates are the last bastion of “mainstream” media self-delusion in the 21st century. They are a ritual laughingstock for tens of millions of American viewers who — campaign cycle after campaign cycle — have put up with leading, softball questions for Democratic candidates and combative, fili-blustery lectures for Republican candidates. Now, Democrats are lobbying the supposedly nonpartisan debate commission to disallow questions about President Obama’s phony dog-and-pony deficit panel.
Why does the Republican Party agree to play along with this ideologically stacked deck masquerading as an objective pantheon of disinterested journalists? The Romney campaign’s capitulation to the liberal debate racket and its narrative-warpers comes at a time when more and more members of the Fourth Estate itself are admitting that they have served or been treated as tools for the Obama administration:
Just this week, ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper told conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham that he “thought the media helped tip the scales” for Obama. “I didn’t think the coverage in 2008 was especially fair to either Hillary Clinton or John McCain. Sometimes I saw with story selection, magazine covers, photos picked, [the] campaign narrative, that it wasn’t always the fairest coverage.” Duh.
MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin acknowledged this weekend on the Today show that the Beltway press corps is helping Obama drive campaign issues that most voters don’t care about: “I think the press still likes this story a lot. The media is very susceptible to doing what the Obama campaign wants, which is to focus on [Mitt Romney's tax returns]. . . . Do voters care about it? I don’t think so. . . . I think it’s mostly something that the press and insiders care about.”
Another MSNBC political reporter, Chuck Todd, disclosed that gaffetastic Vice President Joe Biden’s staff was trying to edit the press-pool reports to cover for the second-in-command’s lack of rhetorical command. “This is an outrage that they do this,” Todd said.
Independent political blogger Keith Koffler, of White House Dossier, reported this week that Team Obama was dictating interview topics to local TV reporters in battleground states, just after holding a kabuki press conference on Monday to capitalize on the Todd Akin (R., Mo.) “legitimate rape”/magical-uterus debacle. “In interviews with three local TV stations Monday, two from states critical to Obama’s reelection effort, Obama held forth on the possibility of ‘sequestration’ if he and Congress fail to reach a budget deal, allowing him to make his favorite political point that Republicans are willing to cause grievous harm to the economy and jobs in order to protect the rich from tax increases,” Koffler reported.
“The reporters mostly made no effort to hide the arrangement. ‘The president invited me to talk about sequestration,’ NBC 7 San Diego’s reporter told her audience. In the interview, she set Obama up with a perfectly pitched softball the president couldn’t have been more eager to take a swing at: ‘What do you want individual San Diegans to know about sequestration?’ she asked.”
These willing lapdogs and stenographers follow in the footsteps of the hallowed Fishwrap of Record, which ’fessed up last month to allowing Obama campaign officials to have “veto power” over statements. “We don’t like the practice,” said Dean Baquet, managing editor for news at the New York Times. “We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder.”
If the 2012 GOP presidential ticket won’t push back, then who will? If not now, then when?