CNN Under Fire For Overtly Hostile Treatment Of Sanders In Iowa Debate

CNN has long been criticized for what many view as overtly hostile coverage of Sen. Bernie Sanders that goes back to the 2016 election where the CNN openly seemed to favor Hillary Clinton in her bid for the nomination. Yet, even for the most hardened critics of the network, yesterday’s debate in Des Moines was breathtaking in its unrelentingly negative questions of Sanders followed up relative softballs to others like Sen. Amy Klobuchar. However the lowest moment of this or any debate this year occurred when CNN reporter Abby Phillips made Sanders repeat his outright denial of the allegation by Elizabeth Warren that he told her that no woman could be president and then immediately stated that Sanders did make the comment in her next question to Warren. In watching with a room filled with people who are not affiliated with Sanders, Phillips’ statement led to loud gasps and Sanders himself seemed dumbfounded on stage by the bias shown by the CNN reporter. Later, Warren appeared to refuse to shake the hand of Sanders.

In the debate, Sanders repeatedly and unequivocally stated that he never made the statement. While some have built up the allegations as a type of political MeToo moment, many remain skeptical for the very reasons that Sanders stated. It seems entirely at odds with Sanders’ numerous statements and actions over the years, including his standing aside for Warren herself when she indicated that she wanted to run in 2016. Moreover, it would have been perfectly insane to go to a meeting where Warren just discussing her next run for president and make such a clearly untrue and self-destructive statement. Even if Sanders believed such sexist tripe, why would he make the comment to a possible opponent who was clearly going to run? It would also been moronic since, when he made the statement, Clinton had already beaten Trump in the popular votes by millions. Why would Sanders say something that was proven to be demonstrably untrue in the last election? The point is not that Sanders is telling the truth and Warren is lying. Rather the point is that there is no reason to just reject the position of Sanders as clearly false as Phillips appeared to do last night.

Even in her set up, Phillips seemed to reject Sanders’ earlier denials of the story: “Senator Sanders, CNN reported yesterday, and Senator Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018, you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?”

While Sanders made these points and repeatedly denied the allegation, Phillips left many of us confused when, literally just after he again denied the story, she asked him again if he denied the story. Some in the audience laughed at the weird follow up but that was followed by gasps when Phillips then turned to Warren and said “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

Phillips then turned to Klobuchar and asked her how she felt about people making such comments to female candidates.

Various media observers had the same reaction. For example, NPR’s David Folfenflik asked “how could CNN accept as fact that Sanders told Warren otherwise when he denied it three seconds earlier? The answer is that you cannot if you are a neutral journalist.

I am not personal friends with Sanders but I have had dealings with him for many years both in hearings and on the Hill. I have always admired him as a person and I have never had reason to question his veracity or integrity. I have also never heard anyone suggest that he was not entirely supportive of women’s rights.

The decision of Warren not to shake Sanders’ hand does not bode well for the next few weeks. The sudden raising of this allegation when Warren is struggling to break out of pack in Iowa was obviously a concern by neutral observers. While Warren says that she is shocked by the story, she did not previously raise it and still last night would shake the hand of Sanders.

Whatever the outcome of this conflict between Sanders and Warren, CNN may have the most to answer for after the debate. CNN has often voiced the view of the DNC and Democratic establishment, particularly in seemingly repeating talk points against Trump. Indeed, in 2016, a CNN figure, Donna Brazile, was found to have leaked questions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and then denied the story by falsely alleging that her emails were hacked. In the last couple weeks, there have been stories of DNC figures and establishment figures moving (again) against Sanders to prevent him from securing the nomination. The only people who have raised bias as often as Trump supporters are Sanders supporters. Just this week, this bias was raised before the debate by Sanders people on the air. CNN responded with clearly biased questions and one moderator all but calling Sanders a liar.

If the other questions were equally heavy handed to the other candidates, this would just be a case of hard hitting questioning. However there was a notably slanted quality to the questions. Thus, Biden was asked about this vote on Iraq in a good question but was not confronted on his false statements that he opposed the war in Iraq. Likewise, CNN hit repeatedly at Sanders not giving hard figures for his health plan but did not press people like Warren on her clearly unsupported projections of revenue to support her plan.

While Warren refused to shake the hand of Sanders, she had every reason to shake the hand of CNN and Phillips. The debate left many of us with the feeling of another setup in the Democratic primary debates. The problem is that the bias was so open and frankly gross that it could have the opposite effect in pushing people toward (not away) from Sanders.

122 thoughts on “CNN Under Fire For Overtly Hostile Treatment Of Sanders In Iowa Debate”

  1. Most of the democrats with both Warren and Sanders in particular are essentially arguing for the government to make more decisions and mandates on behalf of individual and eliminating the freedom to make such decisions for oneself. Why should the same people that support them have a problem with their party deciding upon which candidate they will have to support?

  2. “If the other questions were equally heavy handed to the other candidates, this would just be a case of hard hitting questioning[.]” A quibble, but not sure where this statement came from. It is not accurate, needless to say. What it would be a case of is intensified intellectual dishonesty.

  3. It would also been moronic since, when he made the statement, Clinton had already beaten Trump in the popular votes by millions.

    Moronic? Isn’t the allegation that Sanders told Warren that a woman could not win an election for president? So your defense of Sanders is based on a fact that proves a woman still hasn’t won a presidential election? Of course a woman is just as capable as a man to win the presidency, it just hasn’t happened yet.

      1. Glenn Festog – if it is Candace Owens you are supporting, I am with you. 😉 Not sure which Dice you are backing.

  4. It is indeed skeezy as hell. That said, no power on this earth could push me ‘toward’ Sanders, or any of his ilk. It simply isn’t going to happen.

    1. James

      Why do you hate the notions of healthcare, housing, education, and living wages for everyone?

  5. In this game of “more wokest than thou” the winners are the American public who will be blessed by four more years of great leadership and the ongoing spectacle of the Democrats vying to be further left than the other. Priceless.

  6. A fine column by JT, consistent with his steady criticism of Fox News as the White House network, but I didn’t know he was yet another GOP Sanders concern troll.

    And besides, we needed a break from his daily Pelosi screeds.

  7. “You No Longer Need A Color TV To Watch The Democratic Debates”

    DES MOINES, IA—The FCC announced today that the next Democratic debate will not require viewers to use a color television. The decision was made in part due to the fact that all the remaining candidates are white. The FCC cites several other reasons for the change, however.

    The FCC reminded everyone in a statement that the only color you’ll need to make out the candidates’ skin color is white.

    “Listen, we didn’t want to leave anybody out,” said FCC employee Steven Penta. “Over one percent of American’s live without color TV, and that makes those folks a minority. We didn’t want to leave them out because, well, because this is America!”

    Democrats, however, were unhappy with the news, insisting their party deserved better, more diverse candidates. “These people are all rich, white, privileged scum,” said Bernie Sanders as he rubbed a balloon on his head to prep for the debate. “If my opponents cared at all about diversity, they would drop out and let me win.”

    The FCC will soon ask viewers to upgrade to color television in advance of the presidential debates this fall, as the incumbent will require televisions that display a brilliant orange hue.

  8. The Clown News Network is up to their old propaganda tricks. (I love it when the mob turns on itself.) If anyone watched that hot mess, it might matter but Abby was just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Trump’s rally was much more watchable and funnier but just by a hair on the latter.

  9. Professor Turley recently shared a stage at George Washington university with his star pupil, Michael Avenatti, where he wrote about Avenatti:

    “He was in my torts class as a first-year law student and then worked with me on national security issues, including constitutional issues relating to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He graduated Order of the Coif. Avenatti later established the Michael J. Avenatti Award for Excellence in Pre-Trial and Trial Advocacy, an annual award given to a member of the graduating Juris Doctor class who demonstrates excellence in pre-trial and trial advocacy.”

    Professor Turley will probably write an update on his “order of the coif” pupil since he daily calls on politicians and news media outlets to be honest, transparent and abide by America’s values


    “Michael Avenatti arrested by federal agents during disciplinary hearing”

    Former Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti, 48, was arrested abruptly in southern California by federal agents on Tuesday night during a disciplinary hearing involving the California State Bar.

    While on break during the hearing, the agents placed him under arrest on the grounds of violating the terms of his pretrial release, according to ABC News. However, they are unable to specifically list how because the documents are “under seal.”

    The California State Bar is currently asking a judge to prohibit the lawyer from further practice because it believes he poses a “threat of substantial harm to the public” if he continues legal practice. Avenatti is being accused by the agency of scamming $840,000 from a legal client with a forged document, pocketing the funds for his personal use.

    Avenatti’s attorney in the California State Bar case, Steven Bledsoe, who was also reportedly present during the arrest, acknowledged the arrest to the Daily Beast in a brief statement: “I understand that Mr. Avenatti has been arrested by the federal authorities for violating the terms of his release,” said Bledsoe.

    This arrest is not the first of Avenatti’s run-ins with authorities. In New York and California, federal prosecutors have indicted Avenatti on several counts, including embezzlement, fraud, and extortion. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to such charges, but he still faces mounting legal battles.

    Avenatti is expected to be detained overnight in either the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles or the Santa Ana jail. He will appear tomorrow before a Santa Ana federal court.

    1. Fran – didn’t Stormy Daniels claim Avenatti filed a suit on her behalf without her knowledge? What was his grade in Ethics?

      1. What in the heck is Order of the Coif?

        Never heard of them in the brothels I used to visit for Happy Hour


        1. What in the heck is Order of the Coif?
          Honor society in law school. I preferred my honors group: Order of the Coors!

    1. TIA:

      I love the last line from this 2016 article by the aptly named Professor Tushnet:

      “Of course all bets are off if Donald Trump becomes President. But if he does, constitutional doctrine is going to be the least of our worries.”

      True dat and to quote the mortar board Marxist: “you lost, live with it.”

      Here’s the link to the actual screed:

      Reptilian mind doesn’t begin to describe it. Maybe rat mind.

    2. when it first came on, i liked it a lot

      now it blows

      the advantage in this debacle er i mean debate is to bernie

      warren is a vicious backbiting old hag and pretty much proved bernie’s point

  10. Professor, I know you don’t like our President but you cannot deny when the shadow government goes after a candidate they do not relent. CNN is entangled with the Soros-Clinton agenda. They know Bernie is not someone they can control. He is too honest. Warren is an habitual liar and fits right in with them.

    1. paul c s

      “Fix” is the correct word. Your acute observation is more proof of the stopped clock observation. But doesn’t it just feel like a leftist trick to help the Democratic socialist running against the Corporate socialist?

    2. Paul…

      Yes I do believe you are most definitely correct the “fix” is in for Joe Biden

      After all…

      Yesterday we learned that NOW the Russians hacked Burisma!

        1. Hilary didn’t win a majority of the popular vote, either. The combined totals for Trump, Johnson, and other right-of-center candidates did.

  11. Pinkos love it when CNN (and others) are visibly partisan in their reporting (or better said, advocacy).

    But they forget that once an organization learns bad behavior, it will not change just because the targets have changed.

    Guys, you wanted a propaganda machine attacking politicians. Well congratulations, you have one.

    1. Pinkos? What does that even mean now that Trump loves Putin? Give it a rest.

      All the media outlets including Fox and CNN Hate Sanders because all the media outlets on the right and the left are corporatists.

      1. Pinkos? What does that mean?

        Pfffftttt. Clearly you are a Ukranian troll since every American knows what a Pinko is

        1. Oh dear, did you miss the modifying word..NOW…? When the Republican President is the pocket of a former KGB agent called Putin And Republicans side with the RUSSIANS against our own intelligence community, I think Pinko is Republican!

          By the way our internet is infested with RUSSIAN trolls. You know the ones that work for Putin in favor of Trump, the Orange O. Enjoy.

          1. The best thing about Trump is that he lives 24/7 in the heads of low-IQ leftists.

    2. Struck a cord with the label Pinkos.

      As the responses show, Pinkos are remarkably obtuse.

      They spout nonsense, but have no idea how stupid they are.

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