Some debate "don'ts" for CNN's Blitzer, Malveaux, Roberts, and Brown


According to a November 12 entry on's Political Ticker blog, the November 15 Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas will be moderated by CNN host Wolf Blitzer and will feature questions from CNN anchors John Roberts and Campbell Brown, while White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux "will facilitate audience participation." On the assumption that CNN really does want to offer viewers of the November 15 debate "serious," "specific," and "precise" questions, Media Matters for America offers the following suggested "don'ts" for Blitzer, Roberts, Brown, and Malveaux:

  • Don't contradict your own reporting and suggest that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "cash[ed] in" on a stock deal in which he lost $13,000.
  • Don't say that Obama's position on Pakistan is "very much in line with what" President Bush says regarding Pakistan.
  • Don't contradict your own reporting -- again -- and say that Obama, in following legal requirements to count purchasers of his campaign merchandise as campaign contributors, is "apparently using some creative math" and "overselling his grassroots support."
  • Don't misleadingly crop quotes when challenging a candidate's consistency on a particular issue, as NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert did on the November 11 broadcast of Meet the Press, when he suggested that Obama has "not been a leader against the [Iraq] war."
  • Don't tell Obama that "[i]t's difficult to say that you're against the war and at the same time not say that you're against the troops."
  • Don't suggest that former Sen. John Edwards' (D-NC) work "for financial markets" might "contradict his anti-poverty message."
  • Don't adopt GOP framing and ask Edwards about his "flip-flop" on Iraq "to win the vote."
  • Don't ask about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R) "pretty interesting" quip that "[w]e've had a Congress that's spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop."
  • Don't compare the "liberal woman" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) to French Socialist Party presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, or suggest that the election of "conservative male" Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France will in any way benefit former New York City Mayor Rudy Giualini's (R) bid for the U.S. presidency.
  • Don't misrepresent exchanges from past debates, as Russert did during the October 30 Democratic debate when he asked Clinton, regarding Social Security: "Why do you have one public position and one private position?"
  • Don't ask whether Clinton -- but not former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) -- is "going too far" and "politicizing 9-11" in her campaign ads.
  • Don't purport to cite written documentation while misrepresenting it, as Russert did during the October 30 debate, when he falsely claimed that a letter written in 2002 by President Clinton "specifically ask[ed] that any communication between" him and the first lady "not be made available to the public until 2012."
  • Don't base questions on premises that contradict available polling data, such as whether the Clinton campaign -- while leading all other candidates in head-to-head matchups -- is "feeling desperate."
  • Don't hold Democratic and Republican candidates to differing standards regarding the Iraq war and the budget -- for example, by repeating Republican attacks on Obama and Clinton for voting against an Iraq supplemental funding bill without noting that Republican candidates have also voted against Iraq supplementals.
  • Don't attribute the "weird" 1994 chart created by Sen. Arlen Specter's (R-PA) office to then-first lady Clinton's proposed health-care program.
  • Don't fail to disclose that your husband is an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Suzanne Malveaux, Wolf Blitzer, John Roberts, Campbell Brown
2008 Elections
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