Nel's New Day

September 26, 2016

Debate Bar Low for Trump in Fact-Free Moderating

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:40 PM

The Trump campaign has just admitted how much Donald Trump lies: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, objects to fact-checking by debate moderators. She said that Matt Lauer, who let Trump get away with a vast number of egregious falsehoods during a townhall, “did a great job.” Conway realizes that Trump incessantly lies as shown by his 87 fact-checked “erroneous” statements in only five September days. The campaign manager knows that Trump can survive tonight’s debate only by not being made accountable for his mendacious statements.

Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, has joined Trump in his lying, but he’s not as good at it. Pence called out the Washington Post for “inaccuracies” in its reporting about Trump’s using his charitable foundation for a slush fund but couldn’t find any examples for his claim. On the Fox network, Pence said, “I know that the Trump Foundation, the family, can answer all of those questions about that specific instance, and others, and they have.” Then he shifted to repeating falsehoods about the Clinton Foundation.

The biggest issue of tonight’s debate, far beyond the possibility of Trump’s tantrums, is whether a moderator should point out lies from the debaters. Janet Brown, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, thinks that the moderator shouldn’t bother with facts. For example, the moderator should explain that the unemployment rate is actually 4.9 percent when Trump claims that it’s 40 percent—or even 57 percent.

Although Brown maintains that “the commission asks independent, smart journalists to be the moderators,” she discourages them from pointing out “lies,” negating any need for “smart” or “independent” moderators. The debate ends up being a circus that rewards liars for outshouting truth tellers. Trump supporters who don’t want Trump’s lies revealed claim that people watching the debates will get the facts from follow-up news. No, they won’t. They haven’t bothered to search for the facts for the past 16 months, and they won’t start now.

As John Nichols writes, “The truth, and reality, should not be open to debate.” When Trump points out that he’s always opposed the Iraq War, a moderator needs to point out that he’s lying. Nichols writes:

“Moderators should not be facilitators of falsehood. It is not their job to aid or harm candidates. It is their job to make sure that viewers get an honest impression of who the candidates are and where the candidates stand, and to prevent a debate from veering dramatically off course—something that happens when contenders start arguing about who has a better grip on reality.”

In 1976, President Gerald Ford and presidential contender said, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.” Panelist Max Frankel asked, “Did I understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe as their own sphere of influence and occupying most of the countries there and making sure with their troops that it’s a Communist zone, whereas on our side of the line the Italians and the French are still flirting with the possibility of communism?” Brown claims that moderators shouldn’t do this.

The corruption of the debate process for presidential candidates has come from the media control. When Ford was gently reminded in 1976 that he was “misrepresenting” Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, League of Women voters administered the presidential and vice-presidential debates. The Reagan White House then gave the debates to the major networks.

Dorothy Ridings, then president of the League, opposed this transition during Senate hearings:

“Broadcasters are profit-making corporations operating in an extremely competitive setting, in which ratings assume utmost importance.”

Ridings accurately pointed out that the media control would make a travesty of the debates. By 1988, the League refused to participate in the Bush/Dukakis debates with this statement:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Revered journalist Walter Cronkite wrote in the same year:

“The debates are part of the unconscionable fraud that our political campaigns have become. Here is a means to present to the American people a rational exposition of the major issues that face the nation, and the alternate approaches to their solution. Yet the candidates participate only with the guarantee of a format that defies meaningful discourse. They should be charged with sabotaging the electoral process.”

Because of media control over the debates—and the campaigns—huge corporations have created profit centers through making this process into a giant reality TV show. Last February, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves crowed about the cash that the campaign was making for his network:

“The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us… Bring it on, Donald. Keep going. Donald’s place in this election is a good thing.”

Television has turned a serious issue into a gladiator fight, and Elaine Quijano of CBS News will be moderating the vice presidential candidates’ debate on October 4. Moonves will surely be requiring success for his bottom line—the profits.

Both Matt Lauer, who turned the presidential candidate townhall into a debacle, and Donald Trump, who has made the United States a joke throughout the world, are NBCUniversal celebrities who have earned millions from and for the networks. According to Vanity Fair, NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke is considering returning The Apprentice to Donald Trump if he wins the presidency and broadcasting it from the White House. NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live have worked to normalize Trump’s deplorable behavior by showing how cute he is.

Moderator of another presidential debate, has declared himself not to be the “truth squad.” He is employed by Fox, the network that supported Donald Trump in spreading his lies—including birtherism—so that Trump had tens of millions of dollars in free publicity. Wallace will surely not ask Trump if he will “follow through on your promise to donate $5 million to charity once you were given proof that President Obama was born in the United States?” Roger Ailes, fired from Fox for sexual assault, will no doubt be pleased with Wallace’s “performance.”

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship wrote:

“How can anyone keep Trump in bounds? He makes up the rules as he goes along. He is a pathological liar and overweening narcissist who, as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo reminds us in a chilling take on the man, has more than once hinted at the murder of Hillary Clinton.”

Moyers and Winship quote Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

“The salient fact about Trump isn’t his cruelty or penchant for aggression and violence. It’s his inability to control urges and drives most people gain control over very early in life. There are plenty of sadists and sociopaths in the world. They’re not remarkable. The scariest have a high degree of impulse control (iciness) which allows them to inflict pain on others when no one is looking or when they will pay no price for doing so. What is true with Trump is what every critic has been saying for a year: the most obvious and contrived provocation can goad this thin-skinned charlatan into a wild outburst. He’s a 70-year-old man with children and grandchildren and he has no self-control.”

People talk about “winning a debate.” It shouldn’t be a sport, but people treat it like that—except they give Trump a huge handicap. Clinton does suffer from “special treatment” and “different standards” because of the low bar for Trump. Michael Hulshof-Schmidt wrote:

“All Trump has to do to be declared a winner for this debate is to accomplish the following: not bite off the head of a small child while on stage, not refer to his penis and small hands, and finally (and this is a big ask) not throw one of his usual temper tantrums.”

If Trump attacks Clinton with his lies, he’ll be declared as “strong.” If moderator Lester Holt says anything that Trump doesn’t like tonight, the candidate will continue to “smear” Holt as a Democrat who is rigging the debate, and non-Fox watchers will ignore the fact that Holt has been a registered Republican since 2003.

Donald Trump’s director of African-American outreach warns that anyone who criticizes Trump will have to bow down:

“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

That is the man who will most likely be praised for tonight’s performance.

1 Comment »

  1. Hillary Clinton is the bravest of women to subject herself to his abuse.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — September 26, 2016 @ 4:21 PM | Reply

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