NewsBusters Podcast: Why CNN Deserves Low Expectations on This Debate

We’ve been clear that our expectations for Jake Tapper and Dana Bash in this CNN debate are low, considering their years of Trump-trashing antics. Under Jeff Zucker, Tapper and Bash and all the rest were relentlessly warning that Trump was dangerously inept, mentally unfit, and temperamentally authoritarian.

It’s a little amazing CNN political director David Chalian told the AP that they don’t plan to “fact check” the candidates. Chalian left a door open: “Obviously, if there is some egregious fact that needs to be checked or the record needs to be made clear, Jake and Dana can do that,” he said. “But that’s not their role. They are not here to participate in this debate. They are here to facilitate a debate between Trump and Biden.”

Don’t hold your breath this pledge will be observed. Fighting with Trump is in CNN’s DNA. They’ll find the “egregious” lines and pounce. They will predictably ask if the 2020 election was stolen, and then dispute him when he says yes. They can’t abide his claims that Biden had his fingerprints on Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of Trump in New York. There are all kinds of rhetorical tripwires for them.

Curtis Houck was on Fox News at Night talking about Tapper and Bash, and Kasie Hunt shutting down interviews when Trump staffer Karoline Leavitt stated the facts that Tapper and Bash were biased. He said viewers can judge the debate, if “It’s about whether they make things like the economy the focus of this debate, or do they stick to the Biden agenda of focusing on abortion, and fearmongering about democracy.” They could ask Biden a tough question about late-term abortions, but how likely is that? 

A new Washington Post poll had to be frustrating for the Posties. Polling of six swing states that President Biden won in 2020 shows that voters believe Trump is a greater defender of democracy than Biden, outpacing the current president by 11 points.

At the end of today’s show, NewsBusters staffers and interns pop into the studio with their predictions of what might happen in this allegedly hugely important matchup. Then we’ll see who was right, and who was wrong. 

Enjoy the podcast below, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

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