The second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was yet another exercise in liberal media bias. Almost from the beginning, the tone was clear: Trump would be taken to task and held to answering direct questions while Clinton would be allowed to redirect, obfuscate, and dodge. The pattern held true throughout the debate.
The moderators, Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz (shown), began by saying that the questions for the debate were chosen from the audience and online. Of course, since someone chose those questions, it it obvious that this is no guard against bias. The first question of the night set the stage for Anderson Cooper to jump right into an issue that was sure to set the tone for the debate. The question, asked by audience member Patrice Brock, was about whether the candidates see themselves as role models for children:
The last presidential debate could have been rated as MA, mature audiences per TV parental guidelines. Knowing that educators assign viewing the presidential debates as students’ homework, do you feel you are modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth?
Both Clinton and Trump gave what could only be described as non-answers. Hillary was allowed to do that; Trump was not. After the candidates’ non-answers, Cooper followed up by repeating the question to Trump and saying, “We received a lot of questions online, Mr. Trump about the tape that was released on Friday, as you can imagine. You called what you said ‘locker room banter.’ You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
Trump’s initial attempt to dodge the question was to shift the focus to terrorists:
No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker room talk. I am not proud of it. I apologize to my family, I apologized to the American people. Certainly, I am not proud of it. But this is locker room talk. You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have them, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over and you have so many bad things happening, this is like medieval times. We haven’t seen anything likes this. The carnage all over the world and they look and they see, can you imagine the people that are frankly doing so well against us with ISIS and they look at our country and see what’s going on. Yes, I am very embarrassed by it and I hate it, but it’s locker room talk and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We are going to defeat ISIS. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment. And I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS. We need to get on to much more important and bigger things.
Cooper was not about to allow Trump to move on to other issues so quickly. He asked, “For the record, are you saying that what you said on the bus 11 years ago, that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?” Trump again tried to finesse his answer, saying, “I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.” Cooper interrupted him for one of what would be more than two dozen times by the moderators before the night was over. (By comparison, Hillary would be interrupted 12 times by the moderators.) Cooper asked, “So for the record, you’re saying you never did that?” Trump, try as he might, could not get off the topic. He continued, “Frankly, you hear these things. They are said. And I was and am embarrassed by it. But I have respect for women...” Cooper cut in again with, “Have you ever done those things?” Trump — finally — denied the things he boasted of on the 2005 video. “I will tell you, no I have not,” he said.
Cooper then gave Clinton a chance “to respond.” And she ran with it. In her comments, Clinton said, “Well, like everyone else, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking over the last 48 hours about what we heard and saw,” adding, “You know, with prior Republican nominees for president, I disagreed with them on politics, policies, principles, but I never questioned their fitness to serve.” Obviously lost on Clinton was that such a judgment must necessarily work its way back through time and brand her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as at least equally “unfit” to be president. His record of sexual assaulting women (including allegations of forcible rape) are well known.
Clinton was then allowed to segue into her glorious plans for the future of America.
Trump’s response was to seize the moment when the conversation had shifted and address the things Clinton was promising by saying:
It’s just words, folks. It’s just words. These words, I have been hearing for many years. I heard them when they were running for the Senate in New York where Hillary was going to bring back jobs to upstate New York and she failed. I’ve heard them where Hillary is constantly talking about the inner cities of our country which are a disaster education-wise, job-wise, safety-wise, in every way possible. I’m going to help the African-Americans, I’m going to help the Latinos, Hispanics. I am going to help the inner cities. She has done a terrible job for the African-Americans. She wants their vote and she does nothing. And then she comes back four years later, we saw that firsthand when she saw United States senator, she campaigned where...
And that is where Raddatz cut him off to get back to the video. She said, “This tape is generating intense interest. In just 48 hours it has become the single most talked about story of the entire 2016 election on Facebook with millions and millions of people discussing it on the social network.” Of course, what she failed to mention is that her network — along with others — created the feeding frenzy that drove that issue while ignoring Clinton’s e-mail scandal and the even the WikiLeaks disclosures which were made the same day the 2005 Trump video was released. While those issues would get a bare glossing over in the debate — and Clinton would be allowed to deflect without the moderators demanding answers — Trump was held to answer for his statements on the video and was not allowed to dodge or deflect.
He tried again, anyway, by pointing out that Clinton had stood by her man during his sexual assaults and trysts and had even attacked the very women who had come forward to accuse Bill:
That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country and certainly I am not proud of it, but that was something that happened. If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words and his was action. His words, what he has done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that has been so abusive to women. So you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton is abusive to women. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women, and attacked them viciously, four of them here tonight. One of the women, who is a wonderful woman at 12 years old was raped. At 12. Her client, she represented, got him off and she is seen laughing on two occasions laughing at the girl who was raped. Kathy Shelton, that young woman, is here with us tonight. So don’t tell me about words. I am, absolutely, I apologize for those words, but it is things that people say, but what President Clinton did, he was impeached, he lost his license to practice law, he had to pay an $850,000 fine to one of the women: Paula Jones, who is also here tonight. And I will tell you that when Hillary brings up a point like that and she talks about words that I said 11 years ago, I think it’s disgraceful and I think she should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth.
Only after Clinton was allowed, yet again, to respond, did the issue of her e-mails come up. And the issue came up only because Trump raised it. Raddatz then asked:
Secretary Clinton, I do want to follow-up on e-mails. You’ve said your handling of your e-mails was a mistake, you’ve disagreed with the FBI Director James Comey calling your handling of classified information “extremely careless." The FBI said there were 110 classified e-mails which were exchanged, eight of which were top-secret and it was possible hostile actors did gain access to those e-mails. You don’t call that extremely careless?
Clinton regurgitated her standard taking points on the e-mail scandal and was not pressed by the moderators. Instead, Trump pushed the issue, pointing out that Clinton had claimed not to know that “C” on government documents stood for “classified.” The only response from the moderators was to allow Clinton to respond. At this point, the debate broke out into a free-for-all, with back-and-forth argument between Clinton and Trump before Anderson interrupted to get to another question from the audience. Trump addressed the double standard. “I’d liked to know Anderson,” he asked. “Why aren’t you bringing up the e-mails? I’d like to know.” Cooper simply said, “We brought up the e-mails” and then moved on to the next question.
By the end of the debate, the moderators had hammered Trump about the 2005 video, his taxes, his plan to repeal and/or replace ObamaCare, his stand on Muslim immigrants, Russia, his foreign policy, and other topics. The only person who hammered Clinton about anything was Trump.
Even in the way this debate has been reported, the media bias is evident. One example is Vox making much ado about the fact that Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times and she interrupted him only 17 times. Of course, what is left out is that she didn’t have to do the heavy lifting with Raddatz and Cooper there to do it for her.
Photo of Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz: AP Images