Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Helping Hand

After this post in which I suggested that CNN and/or Jake Tapper slanted Thursday evening's GOP presidential debate,  I came upon Slate's Justin Peters, who criticized CNN and Jake Tapper on other grounds for their performance,  He argued

Take this exchange, for example, in which Tapper, after first indicating that he was going to go to John Kasich, instead passes him over to give Carly Fiorina a chance to respond to something that had just been said about her, explaining that “Miss Fiorina’s name was mentioned and I have to give her the opportunity to respond if she wants it,” as if that particular policy was constitutionally ordained instead of some dumb rule that CNN made up just for the purposes of this debate. 

The debate transcript reveals the following exchange:

CHRISTIE: Stop — and stop playing — and Carly — Carly, listen. You can interrupt everybody else on this stage, you’re not going to interrupt me, OK?

The fact is that we don’t want to hear about your careers, back and forth and volleying back and forth about who did well and who did poorly. You’re both successful people. Congratulations. You know who’s not successful? The middle class in this country who’s getting plowed over by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Let’s start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.

TAPPER: Governor Kasich, I’m coming to you next, but Ms. Fiorina’s name was mentioned, and I have to give her the opportunity to respond if she wants it.

FIORINA: Well, I thought we had been hearing quite a bit about Governor Christie’s record as governor, actually. I think track records are very important. I completely agree that what’s at stake here is the future of this nation, and the future of every American.

But I do think that a track record of leadership is vital because in the end this election is about leadership. And let’s talk about what leadership is. It’s not about braggadocio, it is about challenging the status quo, solving problems, producing results.

And the highest calling of leadership is to unlock potential in others.

It's reasonable to ask:  to respond to what?  (also: who is Carly Fiorina to suggest she knows how to "unlock potential in others?"). There was nothing to respond to, only an opportunity for Fiorina to give a variation on her stump speech. She pulled off a stunt which, as Digby observed,  was met with "great acclaim from right wingers and the media alike" and demonstrated "a skill usually limited to only the best hate talk radio hosts."   The candidate claimed

On day one in the Oval office I will make two phone calls the first to my good friend Bibi Netanyahu to assure him we will stand with the state of Israel. 

The second to the Supreme leader to tell him that unless and until he opens every nuclear facility to real anytime inspections by our people not his,we the United States of America will make it as difficult as possible to move money around the global financial system. 

We can do that we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary in this world will know that the United States of America is back in the leadership business which is how we must stand with out allies. 

As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes, watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. 

This is about the character of our nation and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill shame on us.

The latter description is untrue, as Sarah Kliff at Vox explains, and vile.  Almost as importantly, however, Fiorina was able to take a swipe at President Obama and feed the Republican id by combining two issues without even linking them. There was little transition, as she didn't even try to connect them, preceding her mythmaking about Planned Parenthood by "as regards Planned Parenthood."

There was no linkage, and only an abrupt transition.  Yet, Tapper allowed her to continue, to thunderous applause.

CNN not only wanted Carly Fiorina, whom they had made a questionable addition to the debate, to succeed. The network also wants Donald Trump at least cut down to size, which would make for a more interesting race and possibly derail his major issue- illegal immigration- on which most members of the mainstream media disagree with the frontrunner.  Ben Carson, the second-ranking candidate prior to the second debate, is an unabashed supporter of "traditional marriage" and of Kim Davis (video below) and believes homosexuality is a choice. He is not the media's idea of a reasonable Republican,

Fiorina, a businesswoman who recently was attacked by Trump for her appearance, was the obvious choice. She did her job and now likely GOP primary voters have the opportunity to play Charlie McCarthy to the network's Edgar Bergen.

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