If you were watching the Democratic Debates live last night you may have noticed one trending hashtag #CNNisTrash. Many Twitter users felt that CNN flubbed the debate asking leading questions to each candidate, particularly progressives like Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, and barely touching subjects like climate change, gun control, police brutality, and reproductive rights.
The crassest part of the evening was the CNN moderator stoking the media-incited rivalry between allied progressives Sanders and Warren. The two appeared to have entered frenemy territory this week when it was revealed Sanders’ volunteers were using negative talking points about Warren while canvassing. Then four sources leaked to CNN that Sanders told Warren a woman couldn’t win the presidency in 2018.
CNN asked both senators about the former incident, which many felt was an attempt to pit progressive candidates against each other and distract from real issues.
Democratic debate so white.
With Senator Cory Booker dropping out of the race, Andrew Yang and Deval Patrick are the only non-white candidates in the running but they did not qualify for the debate. While the primary started out with its most diverse set of candidates, only the whitest and wealthiest have been able to garner enough support to stick out the excruciatingly long election season.
Time and time again, experts have pointed out that the primary process too often favors wealthy white males over women and non-white candidates.
Sanders and Warren refused to take CNN’s bait last night.
Moderator Abby Phillip first asked Sanders about the sexist comment. Sanders denied ever making it. Rather than attacking Warren, he pivoted to the fact that Hillary Clinton won the nomination (over him no less) and that she won the popular vote.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it. And I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want. Anybody who knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be President of the United States,” Sanders said.
Warren maintained her account of events without attacking Sanders.
“I disagreed,” she said. “Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But, look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised, and it’s time for us to attack it head-on.”
Warren made a salient point about women’s ability to win elections when they choose to run.
“Look at the men on the stage – collectively they’ve lost 10 elections,” Warren said. “The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women. Amy and me.”
She also noted that she and Senator Amy Klobuchar are the only candidates to beat republican incumbents in roughly 30 years.
#NeverWarren is the number one trend in the U.S.
Some Sanders supporters appear unable to take the lead from their candidate of choice. A behind the scenes moment where Warren and Sanders have a tense conversation has caused many followers to speculate about what was said. Some Sanders supporters say Warren refused to shake his hand.
Twitter has since been flooded with accusations that Warren lied about Sanders’ 2018 comment (with little evidence) and #NeverWarren is now trending. Sanders’ more reasonable followers have chalked things up to a misunderstanding between two friends.
Could all of this anti-Warren drama be due to Russian influence?
Either way, Warren is on the receiving end of a great deal of vitriol which many believe is a coordinated effort by Russian bots to stoke division since neither progressive can win the nomination without the support of the other. A Warren or Sanders presidency will mean bad news for Russia.
CNN’s questions made them the big losers of the night.
There is much criticism of how political pundits cover elections like a horse race or a soap opera, looking for soundbites, drama, and conflict rather than covering policy and the real stakes for American people. Twitter users seemed to agree that CNN’s democratic debate was by far the worst yet.
CNN did not address the conservative court-packing of federal judges who are often rated as not qualified for their lifetime appointments.
Why is everyone so intent on not mentioning the obvious dangers that the current president and his administration pose to the country and the world?
Many question the entire debate process after it’s quite obvious the media doesn’t treat progressive politicians and policies in the same way it does long standing traditional ones.
But perhaps the biggest cause of ire was the constant questions about how Democrats will pay for basic entitlements like universal healthcare, childcare, and college with little interrogation about how the government always manages to allocate billions for endless wars and walls.
Many felt that rather than using the debate as a tool to inform the American people, the moderators were instead reinforcing conservative talking points.
The general reception of the debate was that the candidates kept their cool and were cordial to one another, despite CNN’s repeated attempts to court drama.
The candidates won the debate by dodging leading questions and centering their policies and vision for America.