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NBC Names Debate Moderators -- or Celebrators

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Steven Senne

The first Democratic presidential debates are scheduled for NBC and MSNBC on June 26 and 27. The Comcast-owned networks have just announced a team of five moderators for the 20 candidates who are allowed to participate, or one moderator per four contenders. Let's review this tilted team of liberal journalists/activists.


1. Rachel Maddow is a leftist, Trump-hating Russiagate conspiracy theorist. She ended her last turn as a debate moderator by hugging both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. When this was mocked, she promised she would also hug Republicans if they would let her moderate a debate. This is never going to happen. Maddow's show has been a hot spot in recent months for easy, positive publicity for Democratic presidential candidates ... and Hillary Clinton ... and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. You get the pretty picture.

2. Lester Holt was a one-sided disaster as a moderator between Donald Trump and Clinton in the fall of 2016. Holt asked Trump about stop-and-frisk policies and then challenged his answer. He hammered Trump about the Obama birther issue and then challenged his answer. He asked Trump about Iraq and then interrupted and challenged him more than five times. But there was not one single, solitary challenge of anything Hillary Clinton said. In fact, there were no questions about Benghazi or The Clinton Foundation or anything scandalous. The New York Times loved it. Say no more.

3. Chuck Todd has interviewed Sanders umpteen times in the last five years and has never disclosed that the direct-mail fundraising firm run by his wife, Kristian Denny Todd, earned almost $1.5 million from Sanders' 2016 campaign, as reported by This is a clear conflict of interest, and Todd should recuse himself from any such discussion. But Todd doesn't think that's worth mentioning, just like he thinks you shouldn't mention the reported cozy dinner party and cocktail hour at his house in 2015 that honored then-Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri. Transparency is a one-way street. The public doesn't have a right to know.


4. We best remember Savannah Guthrie for assisting sleazy author Joe McGinniss on the "Today" show in 2011 as he uncorked a pile of unproven sex and cocaine rumors about former Gov. Sarah Palin. Like her pal Chuck Todd, Guthrie has a spouse who works in Democrat circles. Michael Feldman spent the 1990s as an aide to Al Gore and then became a Hollywood consultant who helped Gore push his "An Inconvenient Truth" documentary.

5. Jose Diaz-Balart, a news anchor on the NBC-owned Spanish-language network Telemundo, might be painted as the centrist here, since his brothers are a Republican congressman and a Republican former congressman from Florida. But on air, Telemundo fiercely editorializes against any policy restraining illegal immigration. To oppose it is smeared as "anti-immigrant." For example, Diaz-Balart reported on May 30 (in Spanish), "The private wall that is being built by an anti-immigrant group at the border has sparked a wave of repudiation, both from area activists as well as residents."

This is all par for the course for Comcast, whose chief lobbyist David Cohen hosted a fundraiser in late April for front-runner Joe Biden in Philadelphia. Biden proclaimed to the audience that the moral fabric of America is being "shredded" by President Trump, and that as president he would work to "restore the American creed."


The fabric that's been shredded here is the notion that NBC or MSNBC can be perceived by anyone with a brain wave as neutral moderators in our political debates.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog

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