Ever since their epic failure on a sexual assault story that never happened at the University of Virginia, Rolling Stone magazine is still trying to repair its damaged reputation. They lost a libel suit in that fiasco. The reporter who wrote it has gone into the wilderness, so when you see an RS story—skepticism abounds, right? When it comes to music and movie reviews, Rolling Stone is great, but their political stuff is, well, what you’d expect from a liberal staff. No shocker, but at times—a blind squirrel finds a nut.
Tuesday’s Democratic Debate in Iowa hosted by CNN was boring, especially for the fireworks that erupted between the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren camps. That non-aggression pact is dead. A story leaked that Sanders more or less told Warren that she couldn’t win the presidency because she had ovaries. She’s a woman, so that’s the reason. In the era on cancel culture, which is entirely on the Left, this is a problem. And Sanders, whose 2016 campaign has been accused of having systemic sexism and sexual harassment problems, this isn’t the best news. Like the Clintons, old skeletons could be rehashed. It was mentioned in the debate. Sanders denied it. Warren did not. And the two had an exchange of words about it after the debate. The story at the time of publication was unconfirmed, published by CNN, then The New York Times, and of course, was brought up on the debate stage on national television weeks away before the critical Iowa Caucuses. For Bernie supporters, it’s the establishment doing their part to derail their guy all over again, which was discussed openly in DNC emails back in 2016.
I’m not one to stop liberals from killing one another in this primary race. I’m all for internal divisions eating away at this party, but this is pretty nasty stuff. Again, I can’t stand either of these people, but what happened Tuesday was nothing short of a coordinated political hit. We all know that. I’d never thought I’d see it en masse, but now progressives are accusing CNN of…bias. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote that the whole event “villainous and shameful”:
CNN reported yesterday — and Senator Sanders, Senator Warren confirmed in a statement — that, in 2018, you told her you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?”
Not “did you say that,” but “why did you say that?”
Sanders denied it, then listed the many reasons the story makes no sense: He urged Warren herself to run in 2016, campaigned for a female candidate who won the popular vote by 3 million votes, and has been saying the opposite in public for decades. “There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States,” he said.
Phillip asked him to clarify: He never said it? “That is correct,” Sanders said. Phillip turned to Warren and deadpanned: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”
That “when” was as transparent a media “f*ck you” as we’ve seen in a presidential debate. It evoked memories of another infamous CNN ambush, when Bernard Shaw in 1988 crotch-kicked Mike Dukakis with a question about whether he’d favor the death penalty for someone who raped and murdered his wife, Kitty.
This time, the whole network tossed the mud. Over a 24-hour period before, during, and after the debate, CNN bid farewell to what remained of its reputation as a nonpolitical actor via a remarkable stretch of factually dubious reporting, bent commentary, and heavy-handed messaging.
CNN factory-produces these banal meanderings, worrying over the chances of establishment candidates and how they might overcome the irrational urges of the electorate (“It’s head or heart,” as Bash put it). It’s elite messaging in numbing quantity, to the point where you feel like screaming, “We get it!”
This continued during the debate, with the chryon featuring questions like, “How will [Sanders] avoid bankrupting the country?” Or: “Does Sanders owe voters an explanation of how much his health plan will cost them and the country?”
After Phillip pulled the “When Sanders said that horrible thing we can’t prove happened, how did you feel?” trick with Warren, she moved to Klobuchar, who by coincidence was the person panelists predicted might “go for the jugular” over this story: “Senator Klobuchar,” Phillip said, “What do you say to people who say a woman can’t win the election?” Again, the sleazy construction of the question presupposed that someone actually did say it.
I wondered online how long it would take for someone after the debate to declare Klobuchar the winner. It turned out to be the very first comment on Anderson Cooper’s wrap-up show, from Gloria Borger: “Well, I think that Amy Klobuchar tried her hardest to distinguish herself as a pragmatist who can tell the rest of the Democrats to get real.”
I mean, he’s not wrong. He added that Trump supporters were in full “schadenfreude mode” over this and indeed, we were. But he also aptly noted that voters on both sides are paying more close attention to media bias and manipulation. And if CNN thought they executed this hit job on Bernie a la cloak and dagger—they’re sadly mistaken. It was sloppy, transparent, and now has legions of progressives calling the network “garbage.” CNN stepping on rakes is never an old sport.