COMMENTS: Asbestos Pants

Reporting on last night's Democratic Presidential candidates' debate on CNN in Las Vegas, NBC's Andrea Mitchell was disappointing. She noted the "flying" insults and a "nastier" contest, quoting snippy soundbites between Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards on national defense, neo-cons and Iran, Social Security and healthcare coverage. But Mitchell made no effort to evaluate the accuracy, fairness or efficacy of the barbs. She informed us merely that they were said. On CBS' Jim Axelrod added reporting: he validated Edwards' criticism of Rodham Clinton that her campaign is lobbyist-funded; he validated Rodham Clinton's criticism of Obama's healthcare plan that it does not contemplate universal coverage; he validated Obama's criticism of Rodham Clinton that he would not make good any Social Security shortfall "on the backs of middle class families," as she charged.

As for Mitchell, when she quoted Rodham Clinton arriving on stage after "poor reviews at the previous debate" as saying "this pantsuit is asbestos tonight" she also failed to point out the implicit self-accusation in the New York senator's choice of clothing. After all, it is a liar, liar that has her pants on fire.

Instead of covering the debate, ABC had Jake Tapper (subscription required) explain push polls, the illicit telephone technique "designed not to gather information but to spread information, often ugly or untrue, always anonymously." John Edwards is called an unfit husband for campaigning instead of tending to his cancer-stricken wife…Mitt Romney is insulted for his Mormonism…Barack Obama is accused of being the Moslem Manchurian Candidate. Noted Tapper: "These kinds of malicious attacks usually come in the closing days of a campaign. But as with all things in this Presidential contest, that schedule has moved up considerably."


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