Tom Shales gets it exactly right in today’s Washington Post:
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.
Indeed, it seemed like at least half the debate consisted of stupid hot-button questions that are of interest mainly to people who’ve already decided to vote Republican this fall. The bottom was reached when a voter named Nash McCabe, of Latrobe, Pa., asked by video: “Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag.”
That’s a question? Who would choose to air such idiocy?
More: “This was a travesty,” Michael Tomasky writes in the Guardian. But I’m puzzled by Tomasky’s and Shales’ both saying that Stephanopoulos was off his game. I try to watch as little of Stephanopoulos as possible, so I’m not a good judge. But his performance struck me as entirely in keeping with why I generally change the channel as soon as his smug face appears.