Beyond Debate, Moderator bias and the hereditary principle

Speaking About News
Lloyd Billingsley, “It was clear that Mike Pence was the winner of wednesday’s confrontation,” pollster Frank Luntz told reporters after Wednesday’s debate. Voters found Kamala Harris “abrasive and condescending,” and were “more agitated with Kamala’s presentation than they were with Mike Pence.” Voters may also have noticed that moderator Susan Page of USA Today tended to frame questions in a style favorable to the Democrat.

For example, Page described the recent White House event for Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Cony Barrett as a “super spreader,” a soft underhand lob for Harris. Page said police “broke into” the residence of Breonna Taylor, as though there was no arrest warrant in play.

Page also contended that President Trump was “not committed to a peaceful transfer of power.” That ignored Hillary Clinton’s demand that Joe Biden not concede the election “under any circumstances,” and as Mike Pence pointed out, “Democrats spent the last four years trying to overturn the last election.”

Susan Page’s lapses were mild compared to Chris Wallace of Fox News in the first debate. By the count of Charlie Kirk, Wallace interrupted Trump 76 times and Joe Biden only 15 times. As Adam Mill explained, Wallace’s’ interruptions of Trump effectively relieved Biden of the need to respond, the outcome Biden’s handlers wanted. Wallace also went on the offensive his own self.

He trotted out a discredited tax story the New York Times had recently revived. On the other hand, Wallace ignored recent developments in the case of Gen. Michael Flynn. Wallace did not ask Joe Biden why, like other prominent Democrats, he had requested to unmask Gen. Flynn in January of 2017. Unlike the tax story, that is an undisputed matter of fact.

Apropos of nothing, and off-topic, Wallace also contended that Obama-Biden boasted a better record on jobs than Trump. All told, Wallace sounded like Biden’s debate partner but he also signaled another reality. The hereditary principle is a factor in journalism, as in politics and show business, where one might say it’s “all relative.”

Henry Fonda begat Jane Fonda, Kirk Douglas begat Michael Douglas, Donald Sutherland begat Kiefer Sutherland, Blythe Danner begat Gwyneth Paltrow, and so on. The offspring may possess dramatic talent, but without the family connection they might not even have got in the door.

In similar style, without George H.W. Bush, few would have considered George W. Bush presidential material. This he confirmed by proclaiming “Islam is peace,” even after Muslim terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. President Bill Clinton promoted Hillary for president, but voters failed to go along.

New York Governor Mario Cuomo begat Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor who sent thousands of senior citizens to their deaths in nursing homes. Frank Murkowski resigned from the Senate in 2002 and appointed daughter Lisa to succeed him. Sacramento Democrat Doris Matsui got her start when her husband Rep. Bob Matsui died in 2005. Without the family connection, one doubts that Lisa and Doris would be where they are today. This succession process, a medieval legacy, has crossed over into television journalism.

Chris Wallace has written some books, including Countdown 1945, about the atomic bomb, but standing tall in his profile is father Mike Wallace, perhaps the most partisan liberal on CBS. That family connection gave Chris, a leg up for jobs at NBC, ABC, and Fox, where the true resemblance shines through.

Mike Wallace was a star on “60 Minutes,” classic liberal-left agitprop masquerading as journalism. Son Chris faithfully replicates that routine.  As Wallace said in 2017, “There is a huge problem with the credibility of the White House because they kept saying there is no collusion, there have been no contacts, this is all a hoax, it is all fake news. And then it keeps coming up that people we haven’t heard about did have these meetings.” It might have been Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, or Don Lemon.

After Robert Mueller and a squad of partisan Democrats turned up no collusion, Wallace concluded that Mueller did not give President Trump, “a clean legal bill of health.” In 2018 Wallace said President Trump got “too much credit” for Republicans holding on to the Senate. And when Nancy Pelosi called the vote for impeachment, Wallace proclaimed, “I have to say I can feel goosebumps.”

The moderator of the second presidential debate is C-SPAN “Washington Journal” host Steve Scully, who interned for Joe Biden as a student and worked as a staff assistant to Sen. Ted Kennedy. President Trump said he looked forward to the October 15 debate in Miami, but the Commission on Presidential Debates changed it to a virtual event. As Trump told Maria Bartiromo on Thursday, “the commission changed the debate style and that’s not acceptable to us.” So as the president says, we’ll have to see what happens.

Kamala Harris, meanwhile, is raising the prospect of a “Harris administration,” so maybe the Democrats’ true presidential contender already debated on Wednesday. Mike Pence was the clear winner of that confrontation.