The Commission on Presidential Debates (the “CPD”) makes a big deal about how it is a “nonpartisan” organization. When announcing the debates for this Presidential cycle, it stated “the nonpartisan, nonprofit Commission… today announced the format for the… debates.” The Commission declares that “the CPD is an independent organization. It is not controlled by any political party or outside organization and it does not endorse, support or oppose political candidates or parties. It receives no funding from the government or any political party, political action committee or candidate.
As the saying goes: “what you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
There’s What You Say. Then There’s What You Do
Monday night, the presidential debate moderator, Lester Holt, asked a total of 14 questions.
7 were asked of both candidates.
5 were directed solely to Trump.
2 were directed solely to Clinton (only 1 seemed prepared however – the other was apparently asked only because Trump brought it up).
Of the 5 questions to Trump, 4 were designed to make him look like a fool. That’s 28% of the questions of the entire debate, and 80% of all of the questions asked only of Trump!
80% of Trump-Directed Questions Were Designed to Embarrass
Here are the 5 questions – the last 4 are the questions I’m concerned about:
- You’ve talked about creating 25 million jobs, and you’ve promised to bring back millions of jobs for Americans. How are you going to bring back the industries that have left this country for cheaper labor overseas? How, specifically, are you going to tell American manufacturers that you have to come back?
- You have not released your tax returns… Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?
- For five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledge what most Americans have accepted for years: the President was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?
- You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion…. [Trump denies, Holt states “the record shows otherwise] Why is your judgment any different than Clintons?
- This year, Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major party. Earlier this month, you said she doesn’t have, quote, “a presidential look.” She’s standing here right now. What did you mean by that?
The debate commission used 28% of its opportunities to “meet its ongoing goal of educating voters” by trying to make Trump look like a fool.
If the Commission is truly committed to its “nonpartisan, voter education goal… [Of] afford[ing] the members of the public an opportunty to sharpern their views, in a focused debate format,” why is it that no questions were designed to similarly humiliate Clinton?
None of Clinton-Directed Questions Were Designed to Embarrass
Look at the “hard-hitting” questions given to Clinton:
- Do you believe that police are implicitly biased against black people?
- [Trump] raised the issue of your e-mails. Do you want to respond to that?
Trump was asked more than twice as many questions as Clinton, and 80% of those questions seem clearly designed to “opposed” Trump – and at the very least, they certainly helped Clinton out. Didn’t we just see that the Commission claims to not “endorse, support, or oppose political candidates”?
Is This Really What “Nonpartisanship” Looks Like?
I have no love for Trump – I’m a Gary Johnson guy – but what sort of “nonpartisan” debate is this?? We should all be very worried when the established political machine blatantly begins to favor one candidate over another. If they have the guts to violate fairness in venues publically broadcasted to the whole world, we can be absolutely certain that much is going on behind the scenes to unfailry influence the election. See the Democratic National Committee for fresh examples.
Perhaps these questions could be forgiven if Trump were the only person with skeltons in his closet on the stage. But we know this is far from true. Surely there are plenty of embarrasing questions that could be asked of Clinton – and ones with far more educational content than asking Trump what he meant when he said Clinton did not have a “Presidential look.”
Clinton Questions for the Next Debate
If we aren’t going to get straight fairness, at least the moderators could lob grenades in both directions. Here are some suggestions for the next debate (just in case Martha Raddatz needs some help):
A. Secretary Clinton, you have proudly been a public servant all of your life, and yet your current net worth is estimated to be between $10.6-31.3 million. How has your career as a public servant been so lucrative? Do you think it is justified? Should all politicians expect similar compensation? Why or why not?
B. Secretary Clinton, presumably any candidate for President of the United States should deeply respect the democratic process, and yet, there is clear evidence that the Democratic Primaries were slanted against one of your opponents and in your favor. What do you think is the proper recourse for this disruption of the political process?
C. Secretary Clinton, as President of the United States, you must take responsibility for those under your command and leadership. The FBI has discovered that after your private email server became public in March 2015, one of your aides deleted the archive of your emails. Then, after Congress requested that your emails be preserved for the Benghazi investigations, one of your aides again deleted an unknown number of emails. These same aides also destroyed multiple of your mobile devices with hammers. But you have said you were unaware that these things were happening. The people under your command as President will have greater political ambitition and fortitude than your simple aides, so what what will you do as President of the United States to ensure that those under your command will follow your orders and carry out your vision for the country?
D. Secretary Clinton, as President of the United States, you represent America to the world and will unavoidable set an example of justice and fairness. Just this month, the Department of State released emails between your aides as Secretary of State and an executive at the Clinton Foudnation. In these emails, the aides and the Foundation executive discuss a possible meeting in 2009 between you, as Secretary of State, and Prince Salman. At the time, Prince Salman was the Deputy Supreme Commander of Bahrain’s Armed Forces. Your aide mentioned that the Prince had tried to secure a meeting with you through “normal channels” but was declined because you weren’t sure “how you would feel.” The Clinton executive called the Prince a “good friend of ours.” Within two days of the executive’s email, you had made room in your schedule to see Prince Salman. At the same time, the Prince directed $32 million to be donated to the Clinton Global Initiative. This meeting occurred in 2009. In 2010-2012, your State Department approved a 187% increase of direct sales of weaponry to Prince Salman’s military forces – totaling to about $630 million.
Your spokesperson has said that you “never took action as Secretary of State because of donations to the Clinton Foundation.”
As President of the United States, what evidence would you need to see to request that one of your cabinent members be investigated for improper use of political influence, bias, or funds? What actions would you take to ensure that access to you and those under you was granted on a fair and equitable basis?
What Recourse Do We Have?
Does this concern you? Have you wondered what you can do?
The political system is theoretically intended to serve you and me – to broadly serve the citizens of the United States. However, sometimes it seems to serve some other, smaller, more privileged group.
If you feel this way, I encourage you to consider what recourse you have. And then pursue it. Share your concerns with your friends. Contact the Commission on Presidential Debates. Invite your friends to do the same.
Last night, I went to downtown Phoenix and protested the debate. I have concerns beyond just the obvious bias demonstrated last night (such as why the debate commission doesn’t include all the candidates who are on the ballot in all 50 states (a feat that requires approximately 880,000 signatures nation-wide)). But regardless, I believe it is our duty as citizens to stand up and take action when we see violations of fairness and justice in the workings of our country.
We should do this both out of love for our fellow man and out of self-interest. Love for our fellow man because they should never be the subject of unfairness and injustice – and out of self-interest because today the bias may benefit us, but tomorrow it may turn against us.
The less bias and injustice we have in society, the better it is for all of us.
Want a transcript of the entire debate? With fact checks? Go here.