Nothing about the wars, nothing about the economy, nothing about health care. No mention of the mortgage crisis, or $4.00 a gallon gasoline, or the recession we're currently entering, for the entire first half of last night's debate. Not a word about torture, or the plummeting value of the dollar, or global warming.
It was FOX news at its finest on ABC. I'm not the only one who noticed it, either:
In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia.
It didn't take long for the debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday night to turn to God and guns, small-town values and political opportunism.
A dash of bitterness, too.
Reflecting what seemed to be the main consensus of the night - that ABC botched this debate, big time - Charlie Gibson tells the crowd there will be one more, superfluous commercial break of the night and is subsequently jeered.
"Oh..." he declares, hands raised in defense. "The crowd is turning on me, the crowd is turning on me."
Sorry I missed that. More from Tom Shales, the media critic at the WaPo:
When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.
For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.
The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.
At a time of foreign wars, economic collapse and environmental peril, the cringe-worthy first half of the debate focused on such crucial matters as Senator Obama's comments about rural bitterness, his former pastor, an obscure sixties radical with whom he was allegedly "friendly," and the burning constitutional question of why he doesn't wear an American flag pin on his lapel — with a single detour into Senator Hillary Clinton's yarn about sniper fire in Tuzla. Apparently, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos ran out of time before they could ask Obama why he's such a lousy bowler.
And on and on it goes.
I never want to see another disgraceful display like that ever again. Our corporate media parading around in their finest tabloid/yellow journalism costumes is a disgusting, revolting spectacle.