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Tom Shales of the Washington Post: "In Pa. Debate, Clear Loser is ABC"

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MadBadger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:31 PM
Original message
Tom Shales of the Washington Post: "In Pa. Debate, Clear Loser is ABC"
Edited on Wed Apr-16-08 11:48 PM by hnmnf
When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances. For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with. The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other's running mate, "to both of you," which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, "Don't all speak at once." For that matter, the running-mate question that Gibson made such a big deal over was decidedly not a big deal -- especially since Wolf Blitzer asked it during a previous debate televised and produced by CNN. The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network's Sunday morning hour, "This Week" (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly "World News"), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation. Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to "take one statement and beat it to death," he said.

No sooner was that said than Gibson brought up, yet again, the controversial ravings of the pastor at a church attended by Obama. "Charlie, I've discussed this," he said, and indeed he has, ad infinitum. If he tried to avoid repeating himself when clarifying his position, the networks would accuse him of changing his story, or changing his tune, or some other baloney. This is precisely what has happened with widely reported comments that Obama made about working-class people "clinging" to religion and guns during these times of cynicism about their federal government.
"It's not the first time I made a misstatement that was mangled up, and it won't be the last," said Obama, with refreshing candor. But candor is dangerous in a national campaign, what with network newsniks waiting for mistakes or foul-ups like dogs panting for treats after performing a trick. The networks' trick is covering an election with as little emphasis on issues as possible, then blaming everyone else for failing to focus on "the issues." Some news may have come out of the debate (ABC News will pretend it did a great job on today's edition of its soppy, soap-operatic "Good Morning America"). Asked point-blank if she thought Obama could defeat presumptive Republican contender John McCain in the general election, Clinton said, "Yes, yes, yes," in apparent contrast to previous remarks in which she reportedly told other Democrats that Obama could never win. And in turn, Obama said that Clinton could "absolutely" win against McCain.

To this observer, ABC's coverage seemed slanted against Obama. The director cut several times to reaction shots of such Clinton supporters as her daughter, Chelsea, who sat in the audience at the Kimmel Theater in Philly's National Constitution Center. Obama supporters did not get equal screen time, giving the impression that there weren't any in the hall. The director also clumsily chose to pan the audience at the very start of the debate, when the candidates made their opening statements, so Obama and Clinton were barely seen before the first commercial break. At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates -- or was he really patting himself on the back? -- for "what I think has been a fascinating debate." He's entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/17/AR2008041700013.html

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otohara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. Good To See ABC Getting SLAMMED
for the worst performance by a network in a primary debate EVER! Please don't let them get a POTUS/VEEP debate.
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Zachstar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I dont think even McCain wants to go on ABC for a debate.
He is smart enough to know this was nothing but a headline making money making fest.

Lets see. 30 seconds allowed to other networks

Filled with Commercials

Questions designed for gotchas
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MadBadger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:49 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. I bet hed love to go on there...he'll have to take some viagara though for that BJ.
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. The press is St. McCain's BASE.
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TheDonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:41 PM
Response to Original message
2. Good review. ABC embrassed themselves. No need to go ballistic but they should be ashamed
the moderators acted like clowns or thugs and the commercials were ridiculous.
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DB1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:47 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Why the hell not go ballistic? The MSM sickens me.
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AspenRose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:46 PM
Response to Original message
4. Tough....the "Obamababy" newspaperdude just needs to suck it up....
Clearly there wasn't any partiality...the questions were just fine....


:sarcasm:
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StevieM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
7. The biased pro-Obama media is now trashing the media for supposedly being pro-Clinton
Wow, there is now limit to how deep there bias runs.

This is so ridiculous. Obama has the media in his pockets more then any candidate in American history. All that happened tonight is that it was a little more fair.

Not that any of this matters. Nobody won or lost the debate. It was nothing special.

Steve
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:58 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. Get a clue..you don't know
:wtf: you're talking about.
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scheming daemons Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:12 AM
Response to Reply #7
16. When the moderators become the story in a debate, it means they failed at their jobs.....
..
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pdxmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
8. ABC has broken the golden rule and have made themselves the
story. This was the sorriest excuse for a debate or journalism I've ever seen. ABC will have a long way to get back any modicum of respect after this showing.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-16-08 11:55 PM
Response to Original message
10. Wow! Looks like Tom Shales nailed
the whole debate including making it look like Obama didn't have any supporters there!

I always knew If Obama won it would be 'cause he bypassed the m$$$fm and took it straight to the People.

Thanks, hnmnf..this is gold. I hope abc and its "dispicable" moderators get held exactly accountable for this craven display of greed.
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fedupinBushcountry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:03 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. He did
That is what I wondered after they introduced Hillary they lightened up the audience where Rendell, Chelsea and Clark was sitting, then after Obama I was looking to see who was there for him and they just panned the audience and highlighting no one. Makes you wonder even more if she was given her questions in advance too.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:08 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. abc went for broke and I hope
they have to wait at the end of the line when Obama is elected and they want a fucking story to screw up.
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AspenRose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:11 AM
Response to Original message
14. Someone named "Brown Shirt George" left this in the comments section
"These are the same talking points I'm reading at Obama strongholds Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. They're slamming ABC over Obama's weak performance.

Has MSM given up objective analysis? Are all you guys in man-love with Obama?

Hillary's pulled punches in this contest, since they're both Democrats. Hey, McCain and the Russians won't be so easy."


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BeyondGeography Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:12 AM
Response to Original message
15. "shoddy, despicable performances"
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The_Casual_Observer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:15 AM
Response to Original message
17. Apparently it didn't go well for Shales
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TexasLady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:16 AM
Response to Original message
18. like Hillary, they got BOOED.
kind of telling
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kevinmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-17-08 12:22 AM
Response to Original message
19. Glad I didn't bother watching it PBS had a good show on Illicit Trade ..
the same people that the Clintons are friends with starred in it the corrupt Chinese.
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