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If You Thought Bob Schieffer Was UnBiased During the Debate, Watch Again

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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 05:13 PM
Original message
If You Thought Bob Schieffer Was UnBiased During the Debate, Watch Again
Before the debate, I wrote a journal about Bob Schieffers history of bias towards George W. Bush and John McCain. If you did not read it already, here is a link.

http://journals.democraticunderground.com/McCamy%20Tayl...

I speculated that wily old Schieffer might be tempted to lob softballs at McCain in this last debate, in an attempt to change the game. If so, the way to catch him at it would be to look for a certain question. McCain had vowed to discuss the topic of Bill Ayers to Obamas face, since his running mate, Sarah Palin had been talking about the professor non stop behind Obamas back. As Chris Matthews had pointed out, this would not be good for John McCain, since it would allow Sen. Obama to attack him from a defensive position. The Democratic nominee would be able to tell the world the true story, which would sound very different from Palins pals around with terrorists---and John McCain would sound like a fear mongering jerk.

If Bob Schieffer was biased towards McCain, he would attempt to help his man weasel out of the predicament he had created for himself, by making McCain the injured party . He would do this by pretending that McCain had been the victim of smears every bit as outrageous as anything that Palin and her supporters may have shouted (you know, traitor, off with his head, kill him ) in order to win sympathy votes for McCain and make Obama look like a dirty trickster who had it coming.

Here is what I wrote before the debate:

Is Schieffer paid to report the news the way he would like it to be? Apparently. If Schieffer is true to form, tomorrow night we can expect him to comment upon the way that both campaigns have turned negative, giving John McCain a platform from which to play outraged innocence (Why you young whippersnapper, I spent the Vietnam War in a box to preserve your right to go to any school you wanted to and this is how you repay me!).


And here is what he did during the debate. Please go to the New York Times debate video and transcript. At 23: 17 you can read and see Bob Schieffer attempt to cover John McCains ass on the whole issue of negativity in the campaign:

http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/debates/thi...

SCHIEFFER: Senator Obama, your campaign has used words like "erratic," "out of touch," "lie," "angry," "losing his bearings" to describe Senator McCain.
Senator McCain, your commercials have included words like "disrespectful," "dangerous," "dishonorable," "he lied." Your running mate said he "palled around with terrorists."
Are each of you tonight willing to sit at this table and say to each other's face what your campaigns and the people in your campaigns have said about each other?
And, Senator McCain, you're first.


This allowed John McCain to refer to the single instance in which he corrected a woman who called Obama an arab----an event which his base, the press hyped over the weekend as proof that McCain is really a fair man---as a broad pattern of standing up for his opponent. And it allowed him to tell the world how hurt he was that Rep. John Lewis had criticized him and Gov. Palin for playing around with incendiary language.

MCCAIN: That, to me, was so hurtful.


Thanks to the moderator Bob Schieffer, John McCain was the one attacking from a defensive position. He was the injured party.

The Obama campaign must have expected Schieffer to try a stunt like this, too, because they had their response ready.

OBAMA: Well, look, you know, I think that we expect presidential campaigns to be tough. I think that, if you look at the record and the impressions of the American people -- Bob, your network just did a poll, showing that two-thirds of the American people think that Senator McCain is running a negative campaign versus one-third of mine.


So much for Schieffers journalistic objectivity. His own network had shown that McCains campaign was twice as negative as Obamas, but the moderator tried to portray them as equally ugly.

In the end, even with Schieffers help, McCain lost that round. He said he did not care about Ayers---and then he demanded to know about Ayers. Obama showed that there was nothing to know about Ayers. The McCain campaign would have been better off leaving Ayers the subject of robo-calls and fascist style rallies, since knowledge has a way of reducing fear, and Obama, like FDR, is an excellent teacher.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 05:31 PM
Response to Original message
1. A small correction:
"His own network had shown that McCains campaign was twice as negative as Obamas..."

His network had shown that twice as many people thought McCain was running a negative campaign in comparison to public opinion of Obama. The quality of the negativity was not addressed - and it's safe to say that McCain's campaign is WAY more than twice as negative as Obama's.
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instantkarma Donating Member (489 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 05:32 PM
Response to Original message
2. weak argument
I think if you watch the debate you'll find Obama answered first on the previous question and also on the following question. He and McCain took turns in that respect and I don't remember Mr. Schieffer ever deviating from the order. Now, if Mr. Schieffer arranged his questions beforehand in such an order that McCain would get the first answer to that particular question, or that he would get first answer to other questions which might benefit him, that is another matter. And that would be almost impossible to prove as the answer would rely totally on the honesty of Mr. Schieffer.

My take is that there are much more important things on which to concentrate in these last 18 days, such as countering the hate the wingnuts are stirring up, rather than trying to prove Schieffer is in the tank for McCain. The verdict is out on the debate, and most rational people agree that Obama won.
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anigbrowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 05:41 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Yes, uber-weak
We might note that Schieffer also cut McCain off twice as he ran over time for his answer - which was entirely consistent with the rules, but even I thought he was slightly abrupt about it rather than making a particular effort to be polite. As far as I was concerned he did a fine job of moderating; OP can surely find more interesting things to complain about than this nonsense.
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kath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. Well, Schieffer may have alternated on who went first on each question, but McCain got the LAST word
virtually every time.
Yeah, rational people agree that Obama won. But it still wasn't right for Schieffer to let McLame always have the last word. Blatantly unfair.
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Blue Belle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 09:56 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. YES! I thought I was the only one who noticed that!
Almost every question McCain was allowed to have the last word. Too bad most of the time it just buried himself further.
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Cell Whitman Donating Member (872 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. check this out
kath, meant to post this comment below to your comment.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 08:38 AM
Response to Reply #8
18. Apparently to some, even bothering to notice unfair treatment is "complaining about nonsense".
Puzzling.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
4. Schieffer has a number of curiously passionate defenders here at DU
But, more often than not, I find him to be unambigously biased toward the Right. For several reasons I couldn't watch much of this last debate, but I confess that I had concerns about Schieffer's repeat performance as moderator after his chummy handling of Bush in 2004.
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FlyingSquirrel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Yes, quite curious.
At least one of the above defenders seems to pretty much be a naysayer about everything, so that's no surprise.

Personally, my spidey sense started tingling when Schieffer started in on "Both campaigns being negative" - and I also thought letting McCain go first was suspicious. It seemed like a setup to me and still does.
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Career Prole Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-08 12:14 AM
Response to Reply #6
25. I don't know if it was spidey sense that did it
but when he based the whole discussion on both campaigns being somehow equally negative when in fact only one has been record-breakingly, infamously negative and the other merely called someone erratic because they were acting erratically...well, at that point I cussed so loudly the cat fled the scene, my daughter closed her door, my wife said "Hon, please!" and I got a little spit-splash on the tee vee. I can't see anyone defending that.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 12:07 AM
Response to Reply #4
12. I have also found him to be biased toward the right-wing on many other interviews
or debates. The most recent interview with Wes Clark really burned me up. But, on this one I thought he was pretty even-handed. I wasn't writing anything down and keeping score, so I may have missed a few, but my impression was that he did surprisingly well.

Regarding McCain getting the last word in on 6 of 8 questions: Is that bad for Obama? I think not, because in a number of instances McCain seemed to be almost desperate to get the last word in. Which didn't look good for him, in my opinion. And obviously Barack didn't seem to care because he didn't object.

I'm curious. Does this make me curiously passionate in defending Schieffer's performance. Or am I allowed to just have an opinion that is different from yours?


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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Not at all--In fact, your response was quite reasonable
The "curiously passionate" ones are those who refuse to hear any suggestion that Schieffer might be biased, regardless of his connections to Bush, etc. In terms of the recent debate, you've clearly given it some thought, and that's all I really ask for. Nicely done.

However, I'd argue that Obama couldn't really object to McCain's 6-out-of-8 "last words" without seeming petty and petulant. But I agree that, in itself, McCain's last words didn't really help him.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 01:11 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. Thanks, Orrex. I am trying to be reasonable and thoughtful.
Before the last debate I would have agreed with your last paragraph, but after watching a large chunk of the debate on CNN with the graph lines, I was amazed to see how often any response that was even the slightest bit argumentative earned a downward turn.

Also, it seemed that the men (undecideds supposedly) were much more receptive to McCain's angry, confrontational style, but gave Obama's more professorial and calm answers a lower rating.

The women definitely favored the calm, rational approach to the angry McCainiacal style.

I don't know if it's because Barack's team has schooled him up really well on presentation or if it's because he has an instinct for when to let the minor shit slide, but Barack seems to have the right judgment about what to say and when. He is rarely off target. So, when he chooses not to follow up and get the last word in, I assume it's because he has deemed it to be to his advantage. He is a master at that.

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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 08:45 AM
Response to Reply #14
21. IMO it is not "minor shit".
We are lucky that McCain is intellectually unable to capitalize on all the advantage he was handed by Bob.

Yes, Obama knows that most people will see for themselves that McCain spent most of his extra time rattling off the same thin talking points over and over... and that's great.

But it doesn't excuse unfair treatment... and it doesn't mean we shouldn't be wary of it, and demand better.
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JI7 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 06:04 PM
Response to Original message
5. he was totally biased, it was only because Obama was much better
than McCain and McCain sucked so bad that which is why we aren't talking about it. someone who was better at this like Hillary could have taken advantage of it to make themselves look better.

remember that one debate which Gibson and Stephanopoulos which was very anti Obama.

McCain just sucks so bad and Obama is so much better than him that even with bias Obama comes out looking better.
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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 05:12 AM
Response to Reply #5
15. Exactly. McCain missed almost ever opportunity Schieffer gave him.
That was why Obama looked forward to the debates, even though he knew that two out of the three would be moderated by guys who would be biased towards McCain (Brokaw and Schieffer). Their attempts to help McCain would do no good when McCain is his own worst enemy on the campaign trail.

However that does not make what Schieffer did right, and I have gotten tired of reading people post about what a fine job Schieffer did of moderating the debate. Just because Obama sounded great and McCain came off looking like a horse's ass, that does not mean the playing field was level. It means that Obama is just really good.

BTW, "They all do it" is one of the GOP's favorite political ploy's along with "Divide and Conquer". Whenever Republicans are caught doing something bad---like holding a bunch of hate rallies in which the VP candidate incites people to shout "kill him!" about the Democratic nominee, you can be sure that their media whores will declare that both parties have been guilty of equally atrocious behavior. This is supposed to excuse the Republican crimes or immoral acts and make Independent voters so disgusted with politics that they stay home from the polls in disgust, low voter turn out favoring the GOP, since their base always turns out to vote. For example, when Abramoff happened, the feds set up a Democrat in a sting and raided his Congressional office so they could claim "they all do it".

When we witnessed Schieffer pull the old "they all do it" in order to bring up the issue of Ayers (which was a "Republicans did it" only atrocity) I knew that he was acting in the interests of the GOP. That is classic Republican politics.
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desktop Donating Member (263 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 06:52 PM
Response to Original message
7. Schieffer endorsed by the Bush administration should tell you all you need to know

After CBS fired Dan Rather, the Bush administration soon gave an interview with Bob Schieffer and endorsed him as anchor. Of course Bobs brother Tom was president of Bushs Texas Rangers baseball team.

Thats not the end-all, be-all, but obviously the White House doesnt hate CBS anymore with Schieffer in the chair, Les Moonves President of CBS news
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Cell Whitman Donating Member (872 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-17-08 11:35 PM
Response to Original message
10. Nice post - Mccain was last to answer 6 of 8 questions
I studied it....Excluding the opening statements or any small talk like Schieffer saying "what about that?" or him goosing along the same general questions with a couple words -- but just counting major question or subject changes, Mccain got the last word before the new topic 6 out of 8 times and this was not just a few words, these were often long answers. Also one of Obama's 2 last answers could have been considered part of the same in general economic discussion but Schieffer was specific in his question about balancing the budget in four years so I counted it as question or subject change.

One of Obama's two last words was preceded by Schieffer calling for a "short response."

The average number of words in each one's "last word"?

Obama 92

McCain 148

So it ain't like old Bushco Bob Schieffer couldn't have noticed.
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #10
19. Did you notice how many of McCain's words were just him repeating himself?
Even with the advantage handed to him, he blew it.

And yes, Schieffer noticed. He's a professional, and that's his job. He did a good job... for those whom he serves.
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machI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 05:31 AM
Response to Original message
16. Kick
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 08:33 AM
Response to Original message
17. I noticed the false equivalence in the way he phrased the 'attack ad' question as well.
Edited on Sat Oct-18-08 08:37 AM by redqueen
It seems like most people didn't even notice.

One thing that bears noting IMO is Obama's grace throughout all this unfair treatment.

- He waved off his lost time when McCain wouldn't shut up in the first debate, telling Lehrer to just go on to the next question.
- He didn't treat McCain with disrespect even after McCain wouldn't even look him in the eye during that same debate.
- He ignored Schieffer's blatant bias toward McCain, when Bob allowed Mr HateTalk to have the last word after the majority of questions.

He just keeps focusing on the things that matter to the American people... not his own unfair treatment.

So much that he does speaks volumes about the man's character.
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OPERATIONMINDCRIME Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 08:43 AM
Response to Original message
20. What Hogwash. Bob Did Great.
You are really reaching here. Realllllly reaching.

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bluedawg12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
22. Good analysis and I did think BS was biased. n/t
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Gman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 10:53 AM
Response to Original message
23. You're seeing something that is not there
Schieffer is anything BUT biased towards McCain and Bush. If you think so, you are not at all familiar with Schieffer.
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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-08 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. There is no debate on Schieffer's bias towards W. Anyone who questions that is a Schieffer fan.
Or else works for CBS or the Republicans. His history of W. bias is well documented on the usual media watchdog sites. So are the reasons for it. In the first link in my OP above, I have a few examples but there are many many more.
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NashVegas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-08 10:50 AM
Response to Original message
26. If We Are Still Allowed to Be Honest
I believe "losing his bearings" was indeed an age/feeble mind dig at McCain and it came very early - right after or around the convention, IIRC. That, like "periodically ...when she's feeling down ..." and "lipstick on a pig" are deliberately coded attacks meant to provoke the opponent into over-reacting. Very southern.
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-08 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. There are digs and there are smears.
Can't put "pals with terrorists" and "lost his bearings" on a scale and have it balance. Not anywhere close, IMO.
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