Tuesday night’s CNN debate was a set-up. And that’s not some internet fever dream, it’s an observation shared by reporters from Rolling Stone and The Huffington Post to Fox News and The Daily Caller. Even late-night comedy picked up on the game.
The trap was set the day before, when the hosts of the debate published a story claiming that in 2018, during a private meeting between Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Sanders told Warren a woman can not win the presidency. Reporters have grown even lazier and more comfortable thinking readers are stupid, so the initial report cited four anonymous sources for a story about a one-on-one meeting denied by the Sanders campaign. It also included the hysterical line that Warren’s campaign “declined to comment,” despite the story coming from the candidate and being filled with anonymous Warren campaign comments.
CNN moderator Abby Phillip continued the trend of treating this alleged incident as fact the next night, dismissing Sanders’ denials and opting to ask Warren how the horrible, sexist things Sanders had said made her feel.
“The 24-hour network,” Matt Taibbi wrote at Rolling Stone, “combines a naked political hit with a cynical ploy for ratings.”