The Post Is At It Again

It doesn’t matter ultimately, and they’re entitled to whatever opinion they want, but it’s clear this morning that the Post isn’t satisfied to simply have an opinion – they want readers, particularly casual ones, to believe that everyone else shares their view. Which leads them to some pretty heavy duty cherry picking and deception.

Our favorite hack Chris Cillizza says Sanders won.

More than anything he said, though, it was the passion and disruption that Sanders oozed from every pore over the two hours that should push Democrats on the fence about the race into his camp. Sanders effectively positioned himself as the anti-status-quo candidate, a very good position to have in this electoral environment.

That paragraph makes no sense. Sanders has been oozing “passion and disruption” for eight months now, and yet Cillizza has judged Clinton the winner of every prior debate. Suddenly, he feels differently, and in conclusory fashion. What’s changed? My feeling: now that the consensus has shifted and Sanders is viewed as “having a shot,” Cillizza feels more comfortable judging Clinton more harshly on the debates, as he does in other areas.

And Clinton is the loser per Cillizza.

So, why is she in the loser column? Because she did nothing in the debate to slow the momentum that Sanders is building in Iowa and New Hampshire. Aside from guns, where Clinton scored a clean win against Sanders, she was unable to effectively cast him as a pie-in-the-sky idealist and herself as the only person who could truly fight  — and win on — for Democratic priorities.

What debate was Cillizza watching? On health care, on Sanders’ criticisms of President Obama and on his threats to run against Obama in 2012, Clinton scored direct hits on Sanders. Yes, he had some good moments, and I wouldn’t care if Cillizza believed Sanders won, but this idea that a debate is the place to “slow . . momentum” is just stupid.

Not, however, as stupid and quite frankly mendacious as the Post’s morning summary of opinions on the debate. The headline is “Bernie Sanders won the Democratic debate, say pundits and social media.” Well, I watched about a dozen talking heads on CNN – MSNBC was rerunning the debate, a stupid decision that left them out of the conversation – all say that Clinton won, and comfortably so. How did the Post deal with this? Ignore the talking heads and select a group of mostly people you’ve never heard of, plus a few Republicans, to create a false consensus. How bad was it? Instead of even a single one of the CNN talkers, the Post cites a tweet from a CNN producer: 

You think if Teddy Davis said Hiklsry Clinton won the debate that he’d have been quoted in the Washington Post this morning? Hahaha, sure. Right.

And since they couldn’t quote him saying Sanders won – because he didn’t say it – they quote the one thing former Obama svengali David Axelrod said all night that was critical of Clinton, ignoring his several tweets about other issues and the fact that he opined last night that Clinton won the debate.
Not five minutes earlier, Axelrod tweeted this, which the Post didn’t see fit to mention.


And again, David Axelrod believes Hillary Clinton won the debate. This kind of cherry picking to create a false impression of consensus is embarrassing for a high school journalist. For the Post to do it smacks of ulterior motives.

I’m not criticizing the Post for having a different opinion than mine. I’m criticizing them for reporting that there was a consensus of opinion on Chris Cillizza’s side of the issue when there wasn’t. The Post is entitled to its opinion, as I am to mine. What they’re not entitled to is to claim a false consensus to validate their opinion. Their reporting this morning of only pro-Sanders opinions is inaccurate to the point of mendaciousness. Here’s David Axelrod with a final – and accurate – assessment this morning.  

Debate Quick Takes

Clinton did a good job pinning down Sanders on guns and health care, as well as pointing out Sanders’ opposition to many Obama initiatives. Sanders scored some good points on Clinton’s connections to big money. O’Malley had a hard time getting a chance to speak but was very good on the few occasions he did.

Verdict: Sanders’ points will earn him prose from those who already support him. I don’t think he did a lot to persuade anyone who wasn’t already on his side. Clinton hit Sanders in way that will help persuade winnable voters. Advantage: Clinton on points. No knockout blows.

O’Malley’s Night

I didn’t watch the debate – I’ve reached even my prodigious limit of political coverage, and I didn’t want to hear a lot of foreign policy pandering after Friday night – but there is strong evidence that Martin O’Malley won the night. He was aggressive, he made good points, and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up -politely, of course, this isn’t the GOP food fight.

In particular, I’d note that a PPP poll for the Clinton campaign found that 37% of Democratic primary voters now have a more positive opinion of Martin O’Malley, as compared to 41% for Bernie Sanders and 66% for Clinton.

Also see this story, in which the Post declared O’Malley the winner and which highlighted the number of people searching for Martin O’Malley on Google early in the debate. As the Post wrote, when you’re at 5% in the polls, getting people to find out more about you is as good as you can hope for.

As always, th question is whether any of this good buzz will translate. But for one night at least, O’Malley had the spotlight, and he delivered.

Boy Oh Boy What A Dumb Idea

The New York Times reports that CBS News has shifted the focus of tonight’s Democratic debate to deal more with terrorism, national security and foreign relations.

Steve Capus, the executive editor of CBS News and the executive producer of “CBS Evening News,” said in an interview late Friday that he was in the middle of a rehearsal for the debate when news broke about the slaughter in Paris.

The CBS News team immediately shifted gears and reformulated questions to make them more directly related to the attacks. Mr. Capus said it was important for the debate to go on because the world looks to the American president for leadership during international crises.

“American leadership is put to the test,” Mr. Capus said. “The entire world is looking to the White House. These people are vying to take over this office.”

“This is exactly what the president is going to have to face,” he added.

Mr. Capus said the news team had planned a different debate, but “there is no question that the emphasis changes dramatically.”

“It is the right time to ask all the related questions that come to mind,” he added. “We think we have a game plan to address a lot of the substantive and important topics.”

No, it is definitively NOT the right time. The smoke has not cleared, the bodies have not been buried, the investigation has yet to even start. Any president worthy of the office would keep his or her mouth shut until there was some basis for speaking and beginning to formulate a response. 24 hours after the attacks began is not that time.

But any candidate – particularly on the Democratic side – who acts in such responsible fashion will be pilloried by the right wing noise machine as a weak, ineffectual leader. And this soon after the event, any Democrat who doesn’t start chanting “war, war, WAR, WAR!” will be attacked even more.

CBS, in an effort to attract viewers and stir up shit, has caved in to our basest instincts. Whatever the original plan, it should have stuck with that. Part of a good response to terrible events is to carry on normal activities to show that even terrorist attacks can’t change who we are and what we do. And part of good leadership is waiting to speak until one has a solid understanding of the situation. Now is not that time.

Heathers Rule Our World

No, no, not Heather Mizeur. THIS kind of Heather.

That’s DNC Chair (and aspiring Heather) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, second from left (no, not really). But like any evil Heather, DWS just can’t seem to let the issue of the number of presidential debates go. The Times reports:

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she was disinvited from the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Nevada after she appeared on television and called for more face-offs.

Ms. Gabbard confirmed on Sunday that her chief of staff received a message last Tuesday from the chief of staff to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the national committee, about her attendance at the debate. A day earlier, Ms. Gabbard had appeared on MSNBC and said there should be an increase beyond the current six sanctioned debates. 

A person close to the committee who asked for anonymity to discuss internal discussions insisted, however, that Ms. Gabbard had not been disinvited. Instead, the person said, an aide to Ms. Wasserman Schultz expressed a desire to keep the focus on the candidates as the debate approached, rather than on a “distraction” that could divide the party, and suggested that if Ms. Gabbard could not do that, she should reconsider going.

Ms. Gabbard insisted otherwise.

“When I first came to Washington, one of the things that I was disappointed about was there’s a lot of immaturity and petty gamesmanship that goes on, and it kind of reminds me of how high school teenagers act,” Ms. Gabbard said in a telephone interview on Sunday night. She said she would watch the debate in her district in Hawaii, which elected her to her second term last year.

“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” she added. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the D.N.C., no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”

Ah, petty feuds that will never be allowed to be forgotten. And now it’s all “well, if you’re gonna do that, then you sure as shit can’t come to my party, so THERE.” How pathetic.

My advice to Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton too for that matter, is to organize more debates. DWS says anyone who goes to an unsanctioned debate can’t be in any subsequent official debate. Bullshit. I dare her to try to enforce that rule. Won’t happen – too public and too humiliating.