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Wednesday, October 28, 2020
MRC Takes A Slightly Different Approach To Attacking Debate Moderators
Topic: Media Research Center

Contrary to its usual debate ref-working, the Media Research Center largely declined to attack the moderators of this year's presidential and vice presidential debates -- perhaps because they didn't feel they needed to for a couple of them. The first moderator, Chris Wallace, is a Fox News employee and once gave Paul Ryan a birthday cake, so he's obviously right-wing-friendly and they loved his work as a 2016 debate moderator (occasional Heathering aside). When he was annouced as the first moderator, the MRC's Kristine Marsh cheered that it would be "a Fox News journalist, and not a CNN hack." Further, the MRC highlighted criticism from media figures complaining that Wallace said he wouldn't try to fact-check the candidates in real time during the debate, and it bashed CNN's Brian Stelter for "poisoning the well against Wallace" by pointing out the indisputable fact he's a Fox News employee.

After the debate, though, the MRC didn't have many kind words for Wallace, since he failed to be a total shill for Trump. Nicholas Fondacaro devoted a post to bashing Wallace because he "blamed President Trump for the raucous nature of the debate, and complained that Trump 'put his foot' in the 'beautiful, delicious cake' Wallace and his researcher put together" -- apparently oblivious to the fact that this could be construed as an admission of pro-Trump bias that Trump stupidly failed to avail himself of.

Jeffrey Lord, meanwhile, embraced a completely opposite interpretation by laughably insisting that Wallace was pro-Biden: "Wallace somehow failed to grasp that Joe Biden's constant interruptions came from his 2012 bag of tricks, and that Donald Trump somehow how ruined his 'beautiful cake' by not letting Biden dominate the debate with his contempt for Trump."

Vice presidential debate moderator Susan Page similarly escaped an MRC pre-debate hit job. While she may work for the hated USA Today, she also hosted a party at her house for Trump's Medicaid and Medicare administrator, Seema Verma. But after the debate, Scott Whitlock trashed her for not tossing softballs to Vice President Mike Pence:

USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page failed on Wednesday night. On one of the most consequential questions of the age, whether Democrats in a Biden White House and in the Senate would change 150 years of precedent and pack the Supreme Court, the vice presidential debate moderator NEVER brought the topic up. MRC analysts reviewed every single question Page asked. We found she also never asked about Antifa riots, but instead wondered how a victorious Biden/Harris administration would forcibly evict Donald Trump from the White House. 


The American people deserve to know where the Biden/Harris campaign stands on issues like court packing. But journalists like Susan Page have and continue to refuse to do their jobs and demand answers.

Tim Graham followed up by devoting a column to attacking Page for not being harsh enough to Kamala Harris by giving her "little-league questioning," concluding by whing, "We need more balanced moderators. We’re not getting fair and equally accountable debates." And MRC chief Brent Bozell complained that Page "outrageously refused to force Kamala Harris to explain whether the Democrats would pack the Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, the second debate was canceled after Trump's coronavirus diagnosis. The would-be moderator, C-SPAN's Steve Scully, about whom the MRC had nothing bad to say, at least until he admitted to lying about his Twitter account being hacked. And when changes were made for the final debate in part because of Trump's repeated interruptions during the first debate, Nicholas Fondacaro was suddenly concerned about tradition:

Traditionally, the final presidential debate questions focused on foreign policy. But on Friday, the Commission on Presidential Debates and moderator Kristen Welker of NBC spit in the eye of that precedent and decreed the final debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden be on a variety of topics (including climate change). And then on Monday, the commission upended things once more and announced that the microphones would be muted while candidates answered initial questions.

As if to make up for giving Wallace and Page a pre-debate pass, the MRC went after Welker by parroting the right-wing New York Post's attack on her parents because they donated to Democrats (despite finding no similar link with Welker herself). Curtis HOuck huffed: "Predictably, the liberal media circled the wagons around Welker after the story dropped even though, if Welker’s parents were Trump donors, the same media hyenas would have been calling for Welker’s ouster (and not just from the debate, but her job at NBC as well)," further justifying the hit job and dragging her family into it:

When the four debate moderators were announced, Welker was always the one that conservatives, Trump supporters, and impartial observers had reason to be most concerned about.

Not only has she left a long on-air track record of having been a liberal partisan for MSNBC and NBC, but her family conflicts of interest have made her selection another embarrassment for the Debate Commission."

Welker won't be confused with Jim Acosta, April Ryan, or Stelter, but her record and partisan ties cannot be ignored, regardless of whether it hurts people’s feelings.

That was followed by another hit piece from Scott Whitlock purporting to detail "Welker’s most biased moments over the years."Whitlock struck again by attacking a media person who called out Trump's MRC-esque pre-debate attack on Welker.

The MRC even attacked the head of NBC/Universal for having donated money to Democrats, though it offered no evidence that he ever dictated editorial policy at NBC. And Bozell chimed in with questions he demanded Welker ask Biden; he didn't offer any questions that should have been asked of Trump.

Unsurprisingly, the MRC attacked Welker after the debate, with Whitlock whining that Welker delivered "embarrassing, pro-Biden talking points, assisting the Democrat on climate change and avoiding awkward topics like packing the Supreme Court and Antifa violence" and groused that she equivocated the manufactured Hunter Biden controversy with Trump's long history of conflicts of interest.He further whined: "You know what question NEVER came up? Packing the Supreme Court." Perhaps because it's only an obsession with conservatives and it would not be an issue at all if Trump hadn't rammed Amy Coney Barrett's nomination through Congress.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:03 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 28, 2020 10:28 PM EDT

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