Disingenuous Debate Analysis From HuffPo

By Big Tent Democrat

Speaking for me only

I think well of Nico Pitney, but this post is a bad show from him. Nico argues that the ABC Debate was unlike any other. But how does he do this? He only looks at the last four debates (2 by CNN, one by NBC and the ABC Debate.) From this analysis, Pitney argues that ABC was unlike any other. But Pitney's cherry picking reveals the problem:

Policy Non-Policy Scandal

CNN (1/31) 31 3 1
CNN (2/21) 23 5 2
NBC 24 17 5
ABC 32 14 13

Even with this cherry picking, Pitney's own data proves the point - NBC in its post SNL debate in Cleveland, when it would have been on its best behavior, had 22 non-policy questions. (Pitney's "scandal" designation seems rather convenient to me.) Moreover, Pitney ignores the 20 odd debates PRIOR to January 31, 2008 and PRIOR to the SNL debate skit. He particularly ignores the infamous October 30, 2007 NBC Debate. By doing that, Pitney makes his analysis a mockery. He is better than this disingenuous post. More . . .

Pitney is particularly foolish when he writes:

The debate famously mocked by Saturday Night Live was actually very favorable to Clinton. In the SNL rendition, CNN's February debate was a mix of aggressive, biting questions to Hillary Clinton and softballs to Barack Obama. In fact, the candidates received identical or virtually identical questions about Cuba policy, immigration, bilingualism, the economy, Iraq, and earmarks. . .

Umm, I am PRETTY SURE SNL was not mocking the CNN Debate but the ENTIRE Media coverage of the campaign. In particular, as Pitney well knows, it has been NBC in particular that is known as the Obama News Network.

I do not know what inspired Pitney to deny the obvious but he does himself and the credible arguments against the ABC Debate no favors with this nonsensical post.

For those who do not remember, here is the transcript to the worst debate ever held. It started thusly:

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, we'll begin with you.

You gave an interview to The New York Times over the weekend pledging in it to be more aggressive, to be tougher in your campaign against your chief rival for the nomination, the leader among Democrats so far, Senator Clinton, who is here next to you tonight.

To that end, Senator, you said that Senator Clinton was trying to sound Republican, trying to vote Republican on national security issues, and that was, quote, "bad for the country and ultimately bad for the Democrats." That is a strong charge, as you're aware.

Specifically, what are the issues where you, Senator Obama, and Senator Clinton have differed, where you think she has sounded or voted like a Republican?

It was downhill from there.

< A Return To The 1990s | Electability: Why Hillary Is More Likely to Beat McCain >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    The Obama people ... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:17:36 PM EST
    are so fond of math.  Do they have stock in Texas Instruments?

    Four debates, feh! (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by stillife on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:39:05 PM EST
    Lousy analysis.  I've watched all of the debates and while I haven't been keeping score, my overall impression was that Hillary and Obama got more questions from the very beginning.  Hillary was impressive, Obama not so much.  Other candidates (including Edwards, to my frustration) were marginalized and ignored.  

    Once the field narrowed, the media began to pile on, encouraging the other candidates to beat up on her.  I noticed that they always asked her the questions first, so that Obama could say, "I agree with Hillary!"  She took it all in stride.  Ironically, the media bashing and her grace under fire is what turned me into a strong Hillary supporter.

    The debates were never "fair".  The only difference with this ABC debate is it's the first one where Obama was asked tough questions.  

    Cry me a river!  If he can't tolerate this, how on earth is he going to survive the Republican attacks if he's the nominee?

    Why the focus on the questions? (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by LCaution on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 04:52:39 PM EST
    I think the primary reason Obama's supporters are putting all the focus on the questions is quite simply because Obama's answers - true to a greater or lesser extent in all the debates - were so poorly conceived and delivered.

    Jon Stewart's Thurs. snippets from the debate neatly satirized the questions, but he also used clips that showed Obama unable to put together a coherent response to policy questions (such as affirmative action) - - - and he certainly should have had a well-crafted, canned response to a Wright question.  That he didn't says a lot to me.

    Yes, I am biased toward Hillary, but I think an objective viewer of Obama's performances in 3 areas (speeches made from a teleprompter, informal Q&A with reporters, and the debates) would have to admit that he does well only in the prepared speeches.  And since there are a number of actors who can deliver an uplifting speech, I do NOT consider that to be much of a recommendation.

    In the debates, he has often been able to agree with or point out a minor disagreement with all of the people who got the question before him which, lately, has been Hillary.

    My impression is that he is simply not interested in policy and doesn't prepare for the debates.  When I see him in these non-scripted scenarios, he looks and sounds almost like the Shrub.  One can practically see him searching in his brain for whatever answer he was supposed to have memorized for the question.

    Only 1/4 Of The Questions Were Gotcha Types (none / 0) (#13)
    by PssttCmere08 on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 08:24:02 PM EST
    ...if you can call them that.  They were "give us a straight answer" questions, nothing more.  Obama gave a poor showing, whined and now we have the back and forth we have...they targeted him, they are trying to make him look bad, they favored Clinton, etc.

    Pitney's own number tell a different tale (3.00 / 1) (#6)
    by joc on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 04:15:18 PM EST
    According to Pitney's numbers the ABC had 54% of its questions on policy issues, while NBC only had 52% of its questions on policy issues.

    And despite this Pitney claims ABC is worse.


    In the computer industry... (4.00 / 1) (#9)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 04:52:20 PM EST
    this is called 'Intel Math' - owing to certain imprecisions with floating point calculations on Intel processors.

    I am thankful to the Bush/Cheney admin (none / 0) (#1)
    by Fabian on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:14:54 PM EST
    If it weren't for their cherry picking of intelligence and the media complicity in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, I wouldn't have a unforgettable example of those things and their very significant consequences.

    Yup, let's ignore the vast majority of the debates and single out a very few for for analysis.  Bunk and hokum.

    Now its SNL's fault. (none / 0) (#2)
    by ajain on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:15:30 PM EST
    That is simply pathetic.

    I'm gathering that Nico... (none / 0) (#5)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 04:14:44 PM EST
    wasn't one of the voluminous number of progressive bloggers that were all put out by NBC's treatment of Hillary in that debate so completely skewered by NBC's own Saturday Night Live.

    It was NBC's moderators...Russert and Williams who were pilloried on SNL...not one of the clowns from CNN.

    It really never mattered to Nico how unfair the media was until his guy gets hammered...how shocking is that?

    As for Nico's or HuffPo's credibility or fairness...nah.

    Well (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 04:21:50 PM EST
    Ostensibly, CNN was skewered but we all knew what they were talking about.

    ostensibly CNN? (4.00 / 1) (#8)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 04:50:59 PM EST
    and they chose to use Brian Williams and Tim Russert characters to skewer CNN?

    No wonder it passed over my head then because I associate those 2 with NBC.


    They did not have Williams and Russert (4.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 05:07:58 PM EST
    characters. Your memory is faulty.

    there were 2 (4.00 / 1) (#12)
    by CHDmom on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 05:28:45 PM EST
    SNL debate shows on with CNN in the tank and the other with Russert and Williams I can't get a tiny url to work but there are both videos at SNL