Having received a release about "a broad coalition of journalists" that had chosen to "speak out against ABC News in response to Wednesday night’s ‘gotcha’ debate," I thought, Good. Stephanopoulos et al. were out of line with their obsessive pounding on Obama.
Then, I clicked on the link, and saw that this was something on The Nation‘s Web site, and that few of the undersigned writers were what you’d call MSM types. Yes, there was somebody from The Baltimore Sun, and Washington Monthly is reasonably close to the center, but mostly it was people from The Nation, and Mother Jones and the like — not the sorts of titles that bring "detached observer" to mind.
Which was a shame, I thought — a real missed opportunity for mainstream professionals to decry something that was out of line. Sure, this was The Nation, but for the most part there was nothing left-fringe about the message. An excerpt:
For 53 minutes, we heard no question about public policy from either
moderator. ABC seemed less interested in provoking serious discussion
than in trying to generate cheap shot sound-bites for later rebroadcast.
The questions asked by Mr. Stephanopoulos and Mr. Gibson were a
disgrace, and the subsequent attempts to justify them by claiming that
they reflect citizens’ interest are an insult to the intelligence of
those citizens and ABC’s viewers. Many thousands of those viewers have
already written to ABC to express their outrage.
OK, so maybe it was a little overwrought. And the next paragraph was obviously arguing on ideological grounds, suggesting there was something out of line about saying capital gains tax cuts could stimulate the economy.
But there was a sensible, mainstream point here. The debate I heard sounded like something that Stephanopoulos and the Clinton campaign could have cooked up and rehearsed in advance, as an ambush on Obama. Perhaps it fell short of a "disgrace," but it was most unseemly, because it was so one-sided.
Obama’s remarks about "bitter" Middle Americans were a legitimate point of discussion. But when that was followed by Jeremiah Wright and the Weather Underground, I started thinking that I didn’t need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blew.
So yeah, in this case, The Nation has a point.