NY Times columnist counsels moderators to go easy on Democrats in this week’s first round of presidential debates

By Dave Andrusko

We are only at Monday morning and already we’ve had matching examples of “you can’t make this stuff up”/”you’ve got to be kidding me.”

First, on Sunday, NBC’s Chuck Todd went after President Trump with not only the kitchen sink but the tools used to put the sink in. Snark, patently unfair suggestions, non-stop interruptions, and oodles of editorializing—this was “Meet the Press.”

Even if you loath President Trump and idolize former President Obama, you’d be embarrassed if you compared Todd’s all-guns blazing attack on President Trump with his aw-shucks interview with his buddy President Obama.

But what made it so ironic or funny or disgusting was to compare Todd’s hand-to-hand combat technique with an op-ed from the New York Times’ David Leonardt that ran under the headline, “A Plea to NBC Moderators.”

What’s Leonardt talking about? The two debates this week among 20 Democrats seeking to be their party’s presidential nominee.

Some of his requests, in the form of “three wishes, make sense. For example, talking about “who is ahead” in the polls is a waste of time.

But number three is a classic:

Don’t do performative toughness. We journalists love to ask questions that make us look tough, especially when we’re on live television. Often, though, those questions aren’t actually tough — or smart. An example: Journalists have long given Democratic politicians a hard time about how they will pay for the programs they’re proposing. The subtext is: You’re being unrealistic, aren’t you?

(I’m guessing he wouldn’t apply that logic to Todd’s grilling of President Trump.)

Pardon? Bernie Sanders wants to cancel all $1.6 trillion in student loan debt and the moderators aren’t supposed to ask about how he would pay for it?

Leonardt’s response is some of the candidates have offered an answer to how they would pay for various big ticket items: “big tax increases.” Well, the whole point of this round of debates is to “introduce” the candidates to the electorate.

Whether you agree or disagree with big tax increases the point is you can’t say they’ve already answered the question– so no more “old, clichéd” questions about the subject–when probably only a sliver of the electorate has heard that answer.

By “old, clichéd” questions, Leonardt means questions that don’t play well for Democrats with the public.

What are the odds that the likes of Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will ask another of what Leonardt could consider an “old, clichéd” question—about abortion?

Leonardt would say they’ve already answered that: each and every one of them believes in a “woman’s right to choose.” Any follow up question (assuming there is any abortion query to begin with) would be journalists just talking to make themselves “look tough.”

Really? Does your “woman’s right to choose” include up through all 40 weeks of pregnancy? Does it mean that if a baby survives, she shouldn’t receive the same level of care as any other baby born at the game age? Should the public pay for elective abortions?

The answers would be yes, yes, and yes. Does the public not deserve to know this?

I can’t wait to see the two debates when the questions pitched at the 20 pro-abortion Democrats.