[guest post by Dana]
I just wanted to follow-up on a particular moment during last night’s Democratic debate wherein CNN debate moderator Abby Phillip assumed that Bernie Sanders was lying when he emphatically denied telling Elizabeth Warren that a woman couldn’t win in a general election. From the actual transcript:
PHILLIP: Let’s now turn to — let’s now turn to an issue that’s come up in the last 48 hours. Sen. Sanders, CNN reported yesterday that — and Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018 you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?
SANDERS: Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it. And I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want. Anybody knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be president of the United States.
Go to YouTube today. There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States. In 2015, I deferred, in fact, to Sen. Warren. There was a movement to draft Sen. Warren to run for president. And you know what, I said — stayed back. Sen. Warren decided not to run, and I then — I did run afterwards.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes. How could anybody in a million years not believe that a woman could become president of the United States? And let me be very clear. If any of the women on this stage or any of the men on this stage win the nomination, I hope that’s not the case, I hope it’s me.
But if they do, I will do everything in my power to make sure that they are elected in order to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.
PHILLIP: So Sen. Sanders — Sen. Sanders, I do want to be clear here, you’re saying that you never told Sen. Warren that a woman could not win the election?
SANDERS: That is correct.
PHILLIP: Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?
WARREN: I disagreed. Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But, look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised, and it’s time for us to attack it head-on.
And I think the best way to talk about who can win is by looking at people’s winning record. So, can a woman beat Donald Trump?
Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections.
The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women…
… Amy and me.
After the debates, Warren rebuffed Sanders when he attempted to shake her hand:
Look, either Elizabeth Warren is lying or Bernie Sanders is lying. And moderator Abby Phillip, to her discredit and without any evidence, made it clear by the framing of her question to Warren, that she believed Sanders was not telling the truth. Not only did she openly confirm that she believed Sanders was untruthful, she gave Warren a convenient opportunity to pivot from confronting Sanders to move on to the broader picture of women and elections. This morning, I noticed that CNN’s Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza somehow completely missed his colleague’s act of “media malpractice” in his analysis of the interaction. Perhaps it has something to do with this, eh?
CNN contributor Jess McIntosh suggested later that Phillips had taken her stance because of the network’s reporting: “This was a reported-out story that CNN was part of breaking.”
Abby Phillip discredited herself with her clear and obvious bias, and Elizabeth Warren discredited herself by not directly confronting Bernie Sanders about his sexist remark. Her decision to choose party unity over standing up for herself and standing against an act of alleged sexism came off as weak. On behalf of women everywhere, it’s not an impressive look for a Democratic woman contending for the presidency of the United States to pass on an open opportunity to condemn sexism, especially when it has allegedly coming from a powerful, white male seeking the presidency.
UPDATE: CNN has released the audio of the post-debate exchange between Warren and Sanders (when she refused to shake his hand):
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)