Conservatives were up in arms that the Republican National Committee was allowing NBC News to moderate a presidential primary debate. Given NBC’s record of hostility to Republicans in debates and in general, it seemed like a terrible idea. As it turned out, it was a sober and serious debate with no remarkably hostile or silly questions.
On the Left, NBC News was being pilloried for agreeing to the RNC rules and partnering with radio host Hugh Hewitt of Salem Media Group. On the morning of the debate, Washington Post media reporter Jeremy Barr penned a hostile story headlined “NBC’s partner for GOP debate is Salem, promoter of 2020 election denial.”
Barr cited 2000 Mules, a Dinesh D’Souza documentary alleging (but not proving) widespread hanky-panky with ballot dropboxes in 2020. If it’s fair to suggest Hewitt is guilty by association with D’Souza, can’t we play that game backwards with The Washington Post?
In the Trump years, The Post happily lapped up the Steele Dossier, the Russian collusion conspiracy packet that even Barr’s colleague Paul Farhi described as “raw information and unconfirmed tips from unidentified sources,” paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign team. The Post retracted major parts of two articles in 2021.
Minutes before midnight, after the NBC debate, CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy seconded Barr in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter under the headline “Normalized by NBC News.” Darcy groused: “Respected news organizations typically do not partner with right-wing companies known for trafficking in extremism. But NBC News chose another path. On Wednesday evening, the news organization hosted the third GOP debate alongside Salem Radio and Rumble, helping to elevate and normalize both of the far-right outfits.”
Darcy offered the same dire warning on October 17. “It’s no surprise that the GOP, which veered sharply to the right during Donald Trump’s presidency, would select Salem and Rumble as partners,” he wrote. “But it is striking that NBC News would agree to link arms with such organizations.”
What Darcy did not include in these fulminations was the reporting from Puck News that his own network had floated names of conservative media personalities who could serve as co-moderators of a CNN debate, including….Hugh Hewitt.
As Puck wryly noted, “It seems his own network was equally willing to ‘link arms with such organizations,’ if only it’d been given the chance.”
CNN can also be easily thumped over its shameless promotion of the Steele Dossier. Washington Post media columnist Erik Wemple could show Oliver Darcy and Jeremy Barr his file full of CNN hosts peddling that junk.
For one, CNN host Alisyn Camerota “instructed” Rep. Jim Jordan “your intel community has corroborated all the details.” That’s some shoddy work. Wemple even included Washington Post columnist David Ignatius insisting on the general “accuracy of the thrust” of the dossier.
Darcy’s late-night newsletter didn’t have any space for CNN’s latest guilty association. In Gaza, CNN (and other U.S. news outlets) used freelance photographer Hassan Eslaiah. It was especially embarrassing to see a picture of Eslaiah being kissed on the cheek by Yahya Sinwar, the lead Hamas terrorist in Gaza. Associating with Hamas killers is far worse than associating with Salem Media Group.
This shocking association came out before the debate, but CNN hadn’t yet cut ties with their Hamas contributor, so Darcy didn’t mention it in his late-night newsletter as he energetically trashed NBC’s allegedly unsavory associations.
Darcy and Barr are explicit that leftist media organs are the “respected” ones, regardless of their connections, and conservative outlets are automatically suspect as hubs of misinformation. That’s why these two can’t be trusted as judges of who should moderate Republican debates.