Rendell: Early Questions In the Debate Weren't Real

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 22:49

I went to the spin room after the debate, looking for someone from ABC in order to ask them about the questions in the first half of the debate. Unfortunately, in the spin room, a vortex of discourse was eating its own tail as the signifier drowned the signified in a rusty bathtub in the corner, so I fled out of a deep sense of existential horror. As I was walking back to the filing center, I passed Governor Ed Rendell just as he was finishing an interview. Afterwards, appearing very happy, he said the following to someone standing next to him, revealing not only what he thought of the debate, but also of the early questions at the debate:

"Even an Obama Kool-Aid drinking guy like yourself has to admit she scored a decisive victory tonight. A decisive victory. A knockout blow. A decisive victory. A decisive victory. Even more decisive when they started asking real questions."

The part in bold is an exact quote, even if I might not have accurately remembered exactly how many times he said "decisive victory." (He said it a lot.) It was a candid, off-the record moment that I was able to catch because I was only standing five feet away. Far more informative than the spin room where, as I type this, the ghost of Jean Baudrillard is performing an autopsy on the bloated, water-logged corpse of the signifier in American political news media.

Feel free to call ABC News and tell them what you thought about their debate. The number is 212-456-7777.  

Chris Bowers :: Rendell: Early Questions In the Debate Weren't Real

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"Knockout blow"? haha (0.00 / 0)
Doesn't a knockout blow mean you knock the person being hit out?  If he really said that it's a pretty stupid comment.

Who was the "Obama Kool-Aid drinking guy" that he was talking to? Did you know him?

Knockout? (4.00 / 2)
The only things that got Knocked out were the integrity of ABC news and any hope that we can have a meaningful debate.I need not even mention the absurdity of Rendells knockout claims, although i guess i just sort of did.

[ Parent ]
Worst Debate EVAR (4.00 / 6)
ABC should be embarrassed for how they ran this debate. Almost the entire time was spent discussing meaningless tabloid smears, with almost none given for the serious issues facing this country. The moderators gave, what, 60 seconds for energy policy? Not a single question on FISA.  Not one question on technology, education or health care.

This election is important, and the job of the media in this country is important. I've never felt all that antagonistic toward the old media until tonight. Burn it down, plow it under and salt the earth.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

Tell them about it: (0.00 / 0)
CALL ABC NOW: dial 818-460-7477 press 2 then 6 then 639

[ Parent ]
Oh, I'm letting them know how I feel (4.00 / 6)
Phone, e-mail, text-message, pager, fax, telegram, candy-gram, strip-o-gram, fucking carrier pigeon, smoke signals, tomatoes, torches and pitchforks, spit-balls, you name it.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Their phone is ringing off the hooks ... (0.00 / 0)
But I will keep trying!  I intend to register my complete dissatisfaction with the so-called debate.  It was more about the moderators Gibson and Stephanopolous than it was about Obama and Clinton.  A total waste of time!

[ Parent ]
Challenge their FCC license (0.00 / 0)
I would love to see a serious challenge to their broadcast license for not upholding their commitment to serving the public.

If I recall, this is a long-established obligation that licensees must meet (hence why we have news, weather, traffic, etc) - that they serve the public.

Challenges don't usually go very far, but at the very least it can send a message to the people at top that they are under surveillance and make them spend some $$$ defending their license.

[ Parent ]
Oh man, Chris, no... (4.00 / 1)
You just gave me a flashback to my Post Modern Lit Crit class and Literature of the Witness class.  And I never want a flashback with Ed Rendell in it.  Next I am going to have nightmares of Mark Penn involving Lacan or Harold Ickes involving Lukacs.  Oh God, help me now.

lol (0.00 / 0)
"Unfortunately, in the spin room, a vortex of discourse was eating its own tail as the signifier drowned the signified in a rusty bathtub in the corner, so I fled out of a deep sense of existential horror."

That's funny shit.

[ Parent ]
He actually has a point (0.00 / 0)
She was stronger during the second-half. The focus group made that clear. But the chart also showed that they were impressed with his answers during the first segment and not with her answers over Bosnia. I doubt this changes much. Debates rarely do unless there is a complete disaster (see Bush, 1st debate versus Kerry, 2004). The focus of the media seems to be on the fact that they both though each other could beat McCain and that neither was willing to name the other as their VP.

Looking around the internets at unbiased places i.e. not DailyKos (0.00 / 0)
It sure looks like the story is going to be the lack of balance by ABC.

[ Parent ] has this fantastic headline (4.00 / 1)
[ Parent ]
In fact, that actually further proves your point (0.00 / 0)
"Debates rarely do unless there is a complete disaster (see Bush, 1st debate versus Kerry, 2004)."

And yet, Bush still won.  If I recall, Kerry had a very very slight bounce after the first debate, but it was all but erased by the second.

I think, perhaps, the only "game-changing" debate may have been Bush vs Gore, unfortunately.  I think Gore went into the debates with a fairly good advantage, but then looked cold and wooden in the first debate (and overused the word "lockbox") and that basically blew it for him.

[ Parent ]
Memory serves that after the GOP convention Bush had moved (0.00 / 0)
...well ahead and that the result of the opening debate was to make it competitive again. Agree on Gore.

[ Parent ]
This was the first political debate of the Drudge Era (4.00 / 11)
and in my view that is what we should call it: The Drudge Debate.  

To expand on my comment (4.00 / 9)
I want to step back for a moment.

Gore Vidal some years ago wrote a book entitled "Empire".  One of the themes of the book was the rise of yellow journalism.  On a very serious level, the debate we witnessed tonight was the crowning achievement for Matt Drudge.  Many of the questions that were asked in the first 45 minutes were based on issues that really gained traction from his blog.

What we witnessed tonight was the capitulation of the MSM to Matt Drudge.

Make no mistake: Limbaugh is nothing compared to the power Drudge possesses at this moment.

We have witnessed a serious development tonight.  

[ Parent ]
As horrifying as your comment is to me (4.00 / 2)
you are right.....

[ Parent ]
That is why voters have to scream bloody murder about this travesty (0.00 / 0)
Time to learn from the RW noise machine, and demand that Gibson and Stephanopoulos be fired for journalistic misconduct.

An example must be made, or this truly is the thin end of the wedge....I mean, does anyone remember issues being discussed in the 04 election outside of the debates?

[ Parent ]
I really didn't know (0.00 / 0)
where in this thread to post my comment. As I read through the thread people are upset at a bunch of things. ABC. The moderators, etc.

But what everyone is missing here is as I have been predicting this and it is just a preview of what is to come for our nominee from the Corporate MSM. This is no surprise. This is no fluke. This was all thought out, planned, and approved by ABC Execs - and they could care less of your phone calls. ABC has been down this road before remember with movies that inflamed people and they didn't flinch.

The lesson here is who is best equipped to withstand this soon to be coordinated and orchestrated onslaught by the Corporate MSM players from now until November.

To answer that one has to look at who had the most confidence in answering not only the gotcha questions but the few substantive ones asked also. And not only confidence but command of the subject matter and the ability to get it out without blatantly appearing to have to think and measure every response.

That person was Clinton. She speaks with supreme confidence, command of the subject matter, and she can answer off the cuff without hesitating and saying 'ah' multiple times before and during an answer. She also has less uncovered skeletons in the closet than Obama does and makes far few gaffs.

On the gaff front consider Obama's clean up for his small towns remarks. When Clinton cited her growing up in the Midwest and learning to shoot guns from her father Obama went to his now expected college hall comedy stand up routine and slimed her with Annie Oakley. I previously commented on this -

But here is in part what a NY Times editorial said about it. And just in case those reading this don't frequent the NYT Editorial section much they tend to be more Krugman than Brooks if you know what I mean. Here is what they said:

Mr. Obama is not a hapless victim. His comments made for just the sort of rookie error that the Illinois senator is prone to make, and they have reinforced a feeling that he can be too aloof, or, yes, elitist. His attempts to explain himself have fallen flat, as have his insulting Annie Oakley jokes and demands to see pictures of Mrs. Clinton in a duck blind. Sexist jabs are as offensive as racist jabs.

Sexist jabs!!! And that is what it was from him. As I said in my previous post on the matter:

How many women were taught to shoot guns by their fathers? In rural America a lot were. So in essence he is saying they are all Annie Oakleys.

And this was his clean up - which turned out to be another insult to a lot of Midwest women and women in states and small towns who are rural or have rural access.

We can hardly be confident in sending such a politically green individual into the mouth of the RW machine to be chewed up and spit out as he will be.

I hope people here understand that when hopefully the Supers weigh everything I just mentioned and more and vote for Clinton that everyone will rally around winning the WH and not lament that their guy just was not ready this time around. Remember this is about winning the WH and hiding from a candidates flaws does not make him a better candidate.

Obama will have his chance down the line. He's young and when more seasoned and he has enough time for his sketchy past associations to fade and time to learn not to clean up an insult with another elitist insult he will make a good candidate unless of course we can field a true progressive in 8 years. And if we can then Obama's time would have past and he can continue to serve the good people of Illinois.

Like it or not Clinton is best prepared to take on the guaranteed coordinated and orchestrated onslaught by the Corporate MSM players from now until November.

[ Parent ]
I need some evidence, son (0.00 / 0)
"Like it or not Clinton is best prepared to take on the guaranteed coordinated and orchestrated onslaught by the Corporate MSM players from now until November."

Which part of her campaign supports this statement?

What I've seen from Clinton is a candidate that managed to squander the perception that her nomination was inevitable and still can't convince 60% of the folks in PA (Gibson's numbers) that she is trustworthy enough to be President. Not to mention that her praise of McCain doesn't help to defeat him - it plays directly to his perceived strengths.

How does that campaign track record translate into a Clinton victory over McCain?

Conversely, Obama has gone a long way toward demonstrating that he can effectively confront the GOP noise machine - he's managed to continue to gain ground even while taking one the GOP + the Clinton campaign echo chamber.  He consistently raises more money than Clinton, and his has ALREADY begun to take on McCain by breaking down his "maverick" image and pointing out that, despite his service to the nation, he pretty much offers the same foreign policy as GWB - who CLEARLY does not meet the CiC threshold, even after 8 years in office.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Son? (0.00 / 0)
let me say this spitball. You constantly go around troll rating me without ever saying anything about what I post. That is like throwing rocks and running. As long as you continue to do that I have no more responses for any of your remarks you do make. Got that son?

[ Parent ]
I figured as much (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, Daddy, I "get it" - you don't have any answers.

On "troll rating".  I don't actually consider you a "troll" - but the choices are limited.  I give those out when the responses are not at all directed toward the gist of the posts - and when the posts are simply re-flinging the same mud, over and over again.

In my last post, I laid out why I think that the primary campaign has almost completely undermined Clinton's chances of getting elected should she get the Dem. nomination, and I contrasted those with the opposite results for Obama.

You only saw fit to respond to a single word, "son".

PS: I'm pretty sure I've given a "4" once, or twice, too.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
This wasn't a debate, it was a free-for-all (4.00 / 1)
And the fact is that the free-for-all was pitted against Sen. Obama.  If you think that he was not able to deal with the head and body blows delivered to him then you are mistaken.  If you also confuse that mistaken performance to be nothing important, then you are again mistaken.  He demonstrated last night that he is able to stand tall and continue to talk about things that are important to the American people, despite the onslaught--by the Clintons and her surrogates: Gibson, Stephanopoulos, and ABC!

The other facts that go with this is that if you take a real, clear-headed view of the polls and what people are actually saying about recent events you should/ought to begin to question the credibility of a lot of what is coming out of the mouths of Clinton, McCain, and the media.  

You say that you have been telling us all along that this was going to happen, suggesting that it is necessary for us to bow to your advice and the insistence of the Clintonites to give her a pass--that it is in our best interest to give Clinton the nomination:  WELL, I SAY THAT IS ELITISM!  What kind of nonsense is that?  Telling me that you know what is good for me, and for others--who have different opinions about what is good for this country!

You had best keep a close eye on things.  You want predictions?  Your's is definitely off base.  Sen. Obama is going to win the nomination, and he is going to win it before June!

[ Parent ]
I see (0.00 / 0)
It is OK for you to have your opinion and tell the world that Obama is best but it is not OK for me or others to have a different opinion and even post facts and editorials that say different.

In other words you are right, I am wrong and I should bow down to you.

Of course you don't address a thing I said in my post as to how Obama tries to rectify an insult with another insult but isn't that typical of Obama supporters.

[ Parent ]
We've answered your comments (0.00 / 0)
but we did not have the good graces to "know our place" - and bow before your superior knowledge, that is - we don't agree - so you get all pissy.

Is it not true that Clinton squandered her lead for the nomination?   Is it not true that she, as much as Obama, will be targeted by the GOP during the GE?  What has she done during this campaign that gives you such confidence she won't get trounced by McCain?

I mean, she's struggling to beat a fast-talking huckster with no experience and no substance that she claims hasn't yet crossed the CiC threshold - what chance does she have against the senior Senator from AZ - whom she has already admitted is at least as qualified as she is to be CiC?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
I don't mind you sharing your opinion, (0.00 / 0)
I just don't like pontificating fools with a paternal superiority telling me what's good for me!

[ Parent ]
Fuuny (0.00 / 0)
how all the pontificating fools saying Obama is good for every one draws no critique from you. Given that I take your comments with several grains.

From your "parental" comment I take it you are younger than me. You know when I was in my 20's I thought I knew it all. Then I rudely discovered I didn't. In fact now in my 50's I find that in those 30 years since I am much smarter and wiser. Time has a way to doing that to most people. For your sake if you are in fact much younger than me I hope in 30 years you too will be smarter and wiser than you are today. I hope that experience will benefit you and that you will look back and see how that they have benefited you and that all the years have not been wasted and that you never progressed.

[ Parent ]
You have a long way to catch up! (0.00 / 0)
Just because I recognize paternalistic behavior doesn't mean I am younger than you.  Considering you are in your 50's this would mean that I recognize in you the failure to learn from experience.  I have already been there!

[ Parent ]
I suggest you (0.00 / 0)
read my original post that you responed to. I was not addressing you in particularly. I was just offering an opinion of what I saw in the debate last night and suggesting that is what we are going to see from the MSM from here on forward.

And for that you say I am "mistaken". then you call me a "pontificating fool", and so forth.

Those are ad hominien personal insults directly to a person and unprovoked as I didn't start  the juvenile behavior you are displaying. I'm done with you as you are a waste of my time. There are other  more intelligent people here that actually provide substantive responses without the insults.  

[ Parent ]
You aren't one of them (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
I agree with superdelegate (0.00 / 0)
You will all have Obama fatigue by the time this is done. This is nothing.

Not only is she better prepared, she is also the more progresssive candidate, as evidenced partly by Krugmans support, by labour approval ratings etc.

Krugman wrote long ago that bipartisanship, like we had in the 50's was only possible in an egalitarian economy. Obamas "bipartisan" schtick will not advance us or even work.

FDR only passed the New Deal, ending the last Gilded Age with a cloture-vote-proof Democratic majority. This one needs to be ended, but it will not happen under bipartisanship.

We no longer have that, and only a Democratic majority will end it. Hard core Democrats vote downticket. The Clinton voters voted downticket. The Obama voters didn't.

My reasons for preferring Senator Clinton over Senator Obama, are his bipartisan energy policy advisors with agendas that perpetuate a fossil based energypolicy. despite the similarities, per Grist in their determination to solving global warming. I do believe Senator Obama is sincere. But I worry that he is not  as clear as Clinton about how to get us there, as you can see at his policy center site.

Nuclear Power.

I am not in favour of ethanol to fuel transportation. I believe that continuing to fuel vehicles with liquids that use farming space and water to grow perpetuates the internal combustion engine based approach to moving us and our stuff around, and delays the inevitable move to non-ICE transportation.

We are beginning to see the Hobsons choice in poor nations, having to choose between food or fuel. While both include ethanol in their plans, Clinton's plan provides enough of the other Socolow wedges to get us to a clean economy with ethanol comprising just one stepping stone.  His advisor Senator Bob Dole(R) and his surrogate/advisor Daschle   are ethanol lobbyists.

Nuclear power
Bush put $90 billion on the table for them and that should about do it. Clinton is clear on no nuke plants. The anti nuke diaryists like turkana were chased off of dailykos, which appears to be no longer an open site, but an arm of the Obama campaign.

Of Senator Obama's three energy advisors at his BipartisanPolicyCenter one is a nuclear power company CEO, John Rowe of Exelon. I would be against pronuclear power lobbyists advising a Democratic White House. Nuclear plants take twenty years to build, then at age 50, we need to pay to unbuild them for another 30 years of decomissioning. Thats not a common good lobby in my view.

When I directly lobbied Senator Obama against synfuels last June, along with direct efforts from all the environmental groups, he did switch from his pro synfuel position, prompting a meltdown by Senator Inohofe. But I want a president who already refused to vote for the synfuel subsidy saying, I doubt very much that using coal in liquid form for transportation could ever pass the environmental test, but I am willing to do the research to prove it one way or another. and voted likewise (against the subsidy, for the research only)without my prompting, because that shows a president who has done their homework, so I can trust them to do the right thing.

One of Senator Obamas three energy policy advisors is a former Bush I EPA administrator (its not called TheBipartisanPolicyCenter for nothing!) who is on the board of Conoco-Phillips: William K Reilly.
While both Senators have taken lobbying money from the fossil fuel industries, only Senator Clinton has consistently voted against fossil fuel subsidies, most famously in the fossil porkladen and secretive Cheney Oil Bill, that Senator Obama voted for. Later he explained that vote with saying it was because it had clean coal subsidies in it (there is no clean coal.) So I don't really believe he understands. Her record of standing up to lobbyists that are not in the common good, like nuclear and oil, is superior.

Senator Clinton's  Energy Plan is focused on the common good, based on the science of getting us safely out of the ending oil age with a liveable climate with serious investment in clean energy, $150 billion over 10 years, mostly focused on increasing our solar, wind, ocean, geothermal, electric vehicles etc to the levels now set in the EU.

(If this seems like a too long comment, it is actually part of a diary I was going to post at my old site dailykos, but now it seems pointless. There is just not the attention span there that there used to be, now half the Democratic party has been shoved out.)

John McCain vetoes every Environmental Bill already.

[ Parent ]
Call and leave a message for the President of ABC News!! (4.00 / 1)
Call the New York main number and ask for


David Westin - President of ABC NEWS

I called and told him what a sham of a debate that was.  Disgraceful.


if people are still reading this, (0.00 / 0)
this is the number to call for more impact.  thanks georgeg.  you will leave a message with his secretary, who is busy but pleasant.  I heard her typing it up, although she reminded me there was a comments line.

Chris, awesome job on the diary.

[ Parent ]
Line Busy (0.00 / 0)
The line has been busy since you posted this diary. I have been trying since then. Methinks people weren't pleased.

there is an alternate phone number (4.00 / 1)
as posted over at dailykos

(818) 460-7477

Slacking toward the apocalypse

[ Parent ]
the best part for me (4.00 / 2)
was when Charles Gibson quoted Article II Section I's clause that the person with the 2nd most electors would become Vice President during the 1st question about the possibility of a joint ticket (which, I might add, had nothing to do with the question), but the most damning thing was that that clause was revoked by the 12th Amendment over 200 years ago.

Also related to a general election, no? (0.00 / 0)
I don't actually know the history, but after just seeing it on John Adams, I thought that that was related to a general election.  The Electoral College voted just for president, and whoever was the runner-up would be the VP, which led to Thomas Jefferson, despite coming from another party, being John Adams VP.

[ Parent ]
Yes, even the more legitimate questions were deeply flawed (0.00 / 0)
I thought it was incredibly stupid that they were pretending like the Constitution had specific rules governing how a political party chooses its nominee.

It added a bitter irony to that sad joke of a debate that every round was framed with a quotation from the Constitution.

[ Parent ]
stephanopolous is stuck in the 90's (0.00 / 0)
he's still living in the War Room with the Clintons, thats his mindset.   He understand that tonight was likely his only and best chance to unload on Obama, it was his call to duty.   Ultimately he'll be judged as a petty journalist that went nowhere, left no legacy and ruined his family name.

And filled with delusions of himself being an all powerful king maker..


Just a general question... (0.00 / 0)
I didn't see the debate, but from what I've read it sounded pretty bad.

Still, I thought Stephanopolous hated the Clinton's now?  Wouldn't he have wanted to beat up on her?  Or was this his way to sort of defend his image as an "impartial" journalist?

[ Parent ]
never heard that said about Georgie... (0.00 / 0)
but another Clinton groupie, Dick Morris, is one that really hates them now.

[ Parent ]
Steph was disillusioned by Bill Clinton (0.00 / 0)
....but seemed to still have some affection for HRC...Thought that she was a lot more vulnerable internally than she let on with her "hard" exterior....Bill, just the opposite....

With some of the stunts that ABC has pulled, e.g. the 9/11 "docudrama" fiction from Fall 06, I can imagine the signals that "journalists" are given by corporate management on what line to take....I suspect that matters more than anything else....It's going to be ugly in the fall....

[ Parent ]
quotes (4.00 / 2)
Tom Shales:

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.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

The networks' trick is covering an election with as little emphasis on issues as possible, then blaming everyone else for failing to focus on "the issues."

The truth about Saxby Chambliss

[ Parent ]
I am exasperated by the media reports that Obama looked bad (0.00 / 0)
Reading the papers today reminds me how my opinions can diverge substantially from the mass media.

The NYT and many others say that Obama did poorly because he appeared "defensive." For the life of me, I don't know what else Obama could have done when attacked with all those petty questions.

Still, what I really want to know is how the debate played to the public.  Is there any reliable polling about public reaction yet?

sentence of the day (0.00 / 0)
Chris, can I just give you a shout-out for having written the best sentence I've read all day

Far more informative than the spin room where, as I type this, the ghost of Jean Baudrillard is performing an autopsy on the bloated, water-logged corpse of the signifier in American political news media.

Yeah. If we were in college and there was a quote board. That would be on the quote board. Hey, when you name drop cultural theorists like that I get college flashbacks. Can't help it.

ABC News (0.00 / 0)
The FCC grants licenses to media companies for broadcasting on the air. We should write letters to the FCC.  That along with complaints(written) to ABC and Disney. The Democratic Presidential Debate was such a national disgrace that both moderators should be fired. I don't think that will happen, but we can still demand it.

The country is at war, the economy is on the ropes, people are suffering and looking for leadership and we get the Gotcha show.  It doesn't matter what they asked Barack or Hilary.  What matters are the issues they left uncovered. It proved how out of touch the media are with the wishes and concerns of the American people.  No wonder they give George Bush a free pass.  

Actually... (0.00 / 0)
Rendell said the same thing when they interviewed him on Channel 6 from the spin room - that the first 45 minutes were gotcha bullshit.


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