Tonight’s “debate” sponsored by ABC gave Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos an opportunity to demonstrate that they and their broadcast network have more contempt for the public airways than does Rupert Murdoch. They proved it beyond the shadow of a doubt.
The proceedings opened with a rehash of Mario Cuomo’s fully reversible dream ticket, then devolved into forty-five minutes of a Weekly World News like forum for gossip. It was very much like a rerun of The Worst of Fox, with most of the opening salvoes aimed at undermining Obama. The first two questions dealt with Obama’s San Francisco comments and his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, with asides from Hillary attempting to connect Obama with Louis Farrakhan and Hamas. The third question, directed to Senator Clinton, dealt with her Bosnia sniper remarks. Then back to Senator Obama with the Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity talking points about flag lapel pins and striving to link him with William Ayers of the Weather Underground. It was a sort of guilt by association and misinterpretation sweepstakes.
Finally, after forty-five minutes of tabloid sleaze, they stumbled upon a subject that could be construed as germane to the campaign. That was the Iraq war. Even that, however was presented by Gibson in a fashion to denigrate the positions of both candidates if they didn’t abandon their commitments to withdraw troops and not toe the line drawn by General Petreus’ propaganda.
The discussion of Iran and the possibility of their producing nuclear weapons was dominated by the panel’s attempts to elicit a commitment from the candidates to declare that an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would be considered to be the same as an attack on the United States. Obama did not bite; Clinton did, saying that such an attack “would trigger massive retaliation”.
Discussion moved to tax policy next with Charlie and Georgie publishing the McCain claim that any Democrat would raise taxes on everyone without regard to income level. Then Charlie tried to elicit a “read my lips” pledge from the candidates to foreswear any tax increases of “any kind” on people earning less than $200,000.00 per year. In keeping with the ABC policy of disingenuous repartee, the transparent gotcha was sprung a few minutes later when he pointed out how the candidates had discussed raising the cap on earnings eligible for Social Security Taxes.
From there, the low quality of the moderating plateaued through questions regarding gun control, affirmative action and gas prices (as opposed to energy policy). Then they found the edge of the plateau and descended back to the gossip with a question about making use of former presidents (as if Dubya could be used for anything more than hard physical labor).
The final question, striving to keep itself as devoid of substance as the previous hour and three quarters, dealt with how they would argue their merits to the Democratic super delegates to secure the nomination. And that, dear friends, is how ABC wastes two hours of airtime.
I have to conclude at the end of this propaganda fest that ABC News aspires to be worse than Fox News, and this night has brought them a long, long way toward achieving that goal. It nice to know where the fascists stand, and now that the ABC fascists have told me, I’ll believe them.