In August, I blasted the Commission on Presidential Debate’s choices of three Beltway lib journo-tools — CNN’s Candy Crowley, PBS’s Jim Lehrer and CBS’s Bob Schieffer. So far, they’ve acted just as expected and predicted. As I noted:
While the debate panel trumpeted the gender diversity of its picks, the chromosomal diversity is far outweighed by the political uniformity, class conformity and geographical homogeneity of the group.
Crowley has lived and worked in D.C. for liberal CNN for a quarter-century. Raddatz worked for liberal National Public Radio for five years before joining ABC News; she has been based in the D.C. bureau for the better part of a decade. Schieffer has been a fixture in the nation’s capital at CBS News, home of the faked Rathergate documents, for three decades. Lehrer, the liberal patriarch of PBS News, is nearly as aged a Beltway monument as the Washington Monument itself.
The presidential debates are the last bastion of “mainstream” media self-delusion in the 21st century. They are a ritual laughingstock for tens of millions of American viewers who have put up with leading, softball questions for Democratic candidates and combative, fili-blustery lectures for Republican candidates campaign cycle after cycle.
Tonight, Schieffer takes the stage. Here is the format and topic order he selected:
America’s role in the world
Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
Red Lines – Israel and Iran
The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World
The debate will be held on Monday, October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. The format calls for six 15-minute time segments, each of which will focus on one of the topics listed above. The moderator will open each segment with a question. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Following the candidates’ responses, the moderator will use the balance of the 15-minute segment to facilitate a discussion on the topic. All debates start at 9:00 p.m. ET and run for 90 minutes.
Schieffer has steadfastly refused to acknowledge his biases over the years. But his words below speak for themselves. Can he contain himself tonight? Like Crowley, he’s signaled to the media that he will “interject” himself to stop candidate “filibuster[ing]” when necessary. He has already taken the liberty of redefining what the foreign policy debate is about for voters, arguing to the left-wing Daily Beast: “While the third encounter is devoted to foreign policy, ‘what these debates are about are really about character.'” And liberal L.A. Times columnist James Rainey happily predicted that Schieffer will “throw some curves” tonight. Which way will he lean? You be the judge:
1. Schieffer penned a book in 1989 titled “The Acting President: Ronald Reagan and the Supporting Players Who Helped Him Create the Illusion That Held America Spellbound.” Nope, no bias there! Newsbusters reported that 23 years after it was published, Schieffer finally acknowledged that it was “not entirely true.”
2. In June, Schieffer hosted RNC chair Reince Preibus on his “Face the Nation” program, and lambasted Republicans for focusing on “silly and petty” things — like the $500 million Solyndra bankruptcy. No, really. Preibus held his own. Schieffer showed his true blue colors:
Priebus contrasted the president’s leadership with Governor Scott Walker‘s, an executive who Priebus argued has actually kept his promises. On the other hand, he said that President Obama just loves hearing the sound of his own voice.
At this point, Schieffer jumped in to turn the tables on Priebus and the Republican party, pointing to a recent Republican protest of a David Axelrod speech in Boston and Mitt Romney taking reporters to the Solyndra plant as a kind of campaign stunt. This led Schieffer to ask Priebus just how seriously his party is taking this election.
“Isn’t that kind of silly and petty when you look at it? This campaign should be, it seems to me, about very serious things and very serious issues.”
Priebus argued that Solyndra is a serious, legitimate issue for Republicans to address, because of how well it represents “political cronyism” under Obama. And as for Axelrod’s speech, Priebus dismissed the whole thing as a stunt to make a point in Romney’s home state, and even found it amusing that “these tough guys from Chicago” were “cry[ing] about it.”
3. Schieffer condemned Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for defending herself against thin-skinned Obama’s tarmac hissy fit over her book. Remember: It was Obama who stalked off rudely after whining about her book (which he hadn’t read), not Brewer. In Schieffer’s reality bubble, Brewer was the “vulgar” aggressor — and he used the incident to complain inexplicably about “social media.” Via MRC:
A question we’ve never posed and likely no one outside of CBS News has ever considered: ‘We wondered what Bob Schieffer thinks of all of this?’ Yet that’s how CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on Thursday night cued up Schieffer to take up CBS air time to convey his personal disgust with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for supposedly failing to show the proper respect to President Barack Obama on the tarmac near Phoenix.
‘This is just another sign of the growing incivility and really vulgarity of our modern American politics,’ Schieffer declared, fretting ‘these campaigns have gotten so ugly and so nasty, that they’re now tarnishing the whole system.’ He despaired it demonstrates ‘the coarseness of our culture in this age of social media.’ Then he got personal in condemning Brewer as an historic embarrassment to the nation:
I can never recall a President stepping off Air Force One, which is itself a symbol of the presidency in American democracy, and being subjected to such public rudeness. I think really we’re a better people than this little incident illustrates.
[UPDATE: Schieffer’s hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, which is hardly anti-Obama, didn’t follow Schieffer’s lead and instead held the President the most accountable. ‘Heated exchange shows Obama’s testy side,’ read the headline in the Friday, January 27 newspaper, above the subhead: ‘Critics say he’s unwilling to be second-guessed — or to see other points of view.’]
4. Listen to this testy exchange between conservative talk show host Steve Malzberg and Schieffer, in which Schieffer complains again about the “Internet” for spreading false rumors (pssst…it was the “Internet” that exposed the monumental CBS Rathergate scandal) and stubbornly defends double standards in coverage of Sarah Palin versus Joe Biden.
5. Schieffer moaned in February that it was the GOP that was obsessed with birth control, criticized the party for being “too far to the right,” and falsely stated that Obama had “backed away” from his religious liberty-crushing Obamacare abortion mandate.
6. Schieffer gushes about Obama during the inaugural celebration, compares him to Lincoln:
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on Barack Obama’s inauguration and made this comparison: “Well, people just want to be a part of it. It’s like who wouldn’t want to be a part of it if you could have been there when Lincoln gave one of his addresses or something…People really do feel this is a moment in history. And they want to be part of it.”
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith observed: “And there is an amazing feeling here, especially contrast with the feeling of eight years ago.” Schieffer agreed: “Yeah, it really was, because don’t forget, you had that really difficult thing down in Florida. People were not convinced. Some people were not convinced that George Bush really was legitimately-” Smith interjected: “Still not convinced.” Schieffer continued: “-the president. There was a lot of rancor. People had fun, they came up, and — but nothing like the spirit that you see here…There is a real spirit here. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
Smith later declared: “They’re here from Canada, California, Colorado, Ohio. They’re from all over the country. Every color of the rainbow. And there really is a sense of togetherness, of unity.” He then concluded the segment by exclaiming: “It really is that sort of a sense of E. Pluribus Unum, right?…Out of many, one.” Schieffer agreed: “It really is.”
7. Schieffer’s fair and balanced assessment of Bill Clinton’s DNC speech on September 5: