Maggie Haberman The New York Times reports that the time for hardball has arrived. The Republican National Committee suggests that candidates be asked to pledge not to take part in the Commission on Presidential Debates’ debates. Recent years have seen controversy over moderators insisting that Republicans are “fact checked” (and creating the illusion of victory for Democrats).
A major worry is the fact that the Commission plans to hold the first debate in the wake of early voting having begun in some states. A second concern is that some of the Commission members and selected moderators may have ties with the Democrat nominee. C-SPAN’s 2020 host Steven Scully was an intern for Joe Biden. Next, there is the actual “correcting the Republicans”.
Republicans complain about the way the commission conducts debates since the 2012 election, when Senator Mitt of Utah was elected Republican nominee to face incumbent Democrat President Barack Obama. Candy Crowley (then with CNN) was the moderator for the debate. In real-time fact checking Mr. RomneyAbout a claim that he made concerning Mr. Obama. This drew outrage among conservatives.
Problem is, she “corrected Romney” and tilted debate analysis. Our book explains this. Collusion, Obama claimed “the day after the attack, I stood in the Rose Garden and told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.” Romney shot back: “You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?…I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
Crowley jumped in to assert to Romney: “He did, in fact, sir… call it an act of terror.” Obama crowed: “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?” Crowley repeated: “He did call it an act of terror.” Not according to the transcript from the White House, which has Obama only speaking generically about how “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation,” not assigning that label to Benghazi. Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, pointed out the obvious: “He [Obama] did not say ‘terrorism’ — and it took the administration days to concede that it [was] an ‘act of terrorism’ that appears unrelated to initial reports of anger at a video that defamed the prophet Muhammad.”
NPR’s Thursday evening program featured political Domenico Montanaro blaming Trump for the controversy. Trump has crossed both the borders of truthfulness and decency on the stage for debate. Moderators were obliged to respond against him, and adopt a stronger stance. He interrupted him and did not fact-check his statements. That really upset him as well as the RNC. They perceived a threat against his candidacy as well as to their power.”
He concluded: “Trump of course routinely blasts journalists who correct his baseless claims as biased, so this debate over debates really also gets to the heart of the debate of what happens right now in journalism, Ari – you know, whether our dedication should be to a neutral objective traditional role or Truth should be the north star. I think what we’ve seen in our industry has been moving far more to a strong defense of independent, verifiable truths.”
Montanaro called this “working the refs,” but the successful liberal demands for “real-time fact checking” of Republicans means the “referees” were already worked.