There was a great moment during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate on CNN when Bernie Sanders accused moderator Jake Tapper of posing a healthcare question as a “Republican talking point,” rather than asking a substantive question. He was right: Tapper specifically referred to Sanders’ plan as a way to “take private health insurance away from more than 150 million Americans,” attempted to box Sanders and Elizabeth Warren into questions of middle-class tax increases, and then tried to incite a fight between Sanders and fellow candidate John Delaney.
Let’s forget about the actual question of healthcare for a minute, though—you can read about the universal healthcare debate here—and instead focus on the larger problem that plagued night one of the CNN debates: the role of the moderator. Throughout the night, Tapper regularly talked over the candidates, tried to incite fights and all but played into Fox News’ hands. Tapper wasn’t the only one who did this. All the moderators did. They also asked a ton of bullshit questions.
When asking candidates about immigration reform, here’s how CNN posed the question: “Do you believe guaranteeing migrants free healthcare and college will encourage more illegal immigration?” This is blatant fear-mongering, xenophobic scare tactics in an attempt to maintain a centrist status quo and incite a Red Scare-esque reaction to the budding leftist movement supported by Sanders and Warren.
Here’s another good one, this time on the topic of the Green New Deal: “Are you concerned about Sen. Sanders’ plan to end new gas-powered car sales by 2040?” Or this one, which all but gives Trump’s wretched behavior an out: “What do you say to Trump voters who prioritize the economy over the President’s bigotry?”
These are jaw-dropping, blatantly leading questions that would be destined to give Trump’s reelection campaign ideal soundbites—that is, if the candidates had been given long enough time to talk in between Tapper’s incursions. If voters should take anything away from the CNN debates, its that Tapper is a contrarian blowhard and his network is perpetuating the very problems that got Trump elected. Night one of the debates was a disaster; we can only hope that night two will be even moderately better.