Monday night, the current GOP Presidential field took the stage in New Hampshire for a debate hosted by CNN.
Most political junkies (which, let’s face it, are the only people watching these things) went in with low expectations. Really, what’s to be excited about?
Despite the abysmal performance of CNN moderator John King, who by all accounts was a stuttering mess, the debate was… fine. Format issues and inane questions aside (Pepsi or Coke? Elvis or Johnny Cash?), Michele Bachmann was clearly the winner. She was by far the most prepared, the most media savvy, and stole the headlines from the beginning when she announced her official candidacy. Maybe it seems silly that someone on the stage at a Presidential debate would have to announce her run for POTUS, but it was savvy enough to win some press… and that’s what these things are all about.
So what exactly did the media have to say about this event? Let’s start with Dana Milbank at the Washington Post. His headline this morning read “Bachmann assumes the position.” Gee, I wonder what position he means! Obviously it was a harmless referral to King telling them to take their positions. No double entendre there!
… Which I’m sure is why the headline was quickly changed in the wake of the backlash on Twitter this morning. We can’t blame them for taking sexist shots at the only woman in the debate – Sarah Palin wasn’t around last night. It’s obviously her fault for throwing Michele to the wolves!
Now for the trivialization. This headline from USA Today is laughable:
Now, CNN flubbed the debate format and didn’t touch on important issues (did Israel even come up?), but to ask candidates about Muslims, then go after them for talking about them? It reeks of a “gorillas in the mist” set up where they watch the goofy Republicans from afar, and get confused and stutter when they don’t match predicted patterns of behavior
And then there’s MSNBC, who chooses to focus on those family values bigots who are obviously backward religious zealots who have no place in a civil society.
That’s right, from MSNBC’s PowerWall. The “new norm”? I’m pretty sure the GOP has been the “values” party for ages, which is why Republican officials are forced to resign when they have affairs or post half naked pictures of themselves. It’s hypocritical to preach a conservative message and cheat… and as long as it’s not hypocritical, Democrats are totally okay with posting crotch shots … at least, that’s what Weiner supporter Katie Halper says (warning on this clip: your head might explode).
CNN got hung up on DOMA, tried to get Pawlenty to take shots at Romney for his abortion flip-flopping (which he should have done), grilled a few of them on Islam … and ta da! The right wing religious zealot narrative was written.
They missed opportunities to school Romney on his flip flopping, Newt on the mass resignation of his staff, and a million other hard hitting stories. Today, they’re writing stories about pizza, belittling Michele Bachmann, and blasting the Christian right. They are the losers in this debate.
… And maybe Tim Pawlenty for being a weenie.