George Stephanopoulos, fresh from his Stephen Colbert shtick (right), tells the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz that Barack Obama deserved to get tougher questions than Hillary Clinton at Wednesday’s debate because he’s the front-runner. Kurtz writes:
“Senator Obama is the front-runner,” said Stephanopoulos, the network’s chief Washington correspondent and a former Clinton White House aide. “Our thinking was, electability was the number one issue,” and questions about “relationships and character go to the heart of it.”
Besides, he added, “you can’t do a tougher question for Senator Clinton than ‘six out of 10 Americans don’t think you’re honest.’ “
But the problem wasn’t that the questions were unfairly tilted against Obama; it’s that they were stupid and demeaning. Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson debased the process by mouthing Colbert-like parodies of Republican talking points as though they were actual questions.
“Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?” is not a question. “I want to know if you believe in the American flag” (from a Pennsylvania woman) is not a question. For that matter, “Six out of 10 Americans don’t think you’re honest” is not a question.
Does Stephanopoulos not understand this? Perhaps he does. Perhaps he realizes that he, Gibson and the debate producers screwed up big-time Wednesday night, and he’s just talking trash to Kurtz but will nevertheless learn from his mistakes.
If not — well, please, as Media Nation reader Peter Porcupine says, bring back the League of Women Voters.
More: Jim Romenesko rounds up the critics.