There is bipartisan agreement that the first presidential debate between the candidates in the 2020 election was mostly a dumpster fire.
Besides ending pretty much in a draw for President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Fox News’ Chris Wallace was roundly criticized for hammering Trump while helping the Democratic nominee throughout the night, at one point even debating Trump all by himself.
Sadly, the second face-off on Oct. 15 may not go much better with C-SPAN senior executive producer and political editor Steve Scully tapped to moderate the next debate from Miami.
Scully’s calm, steady demeanor as host of the network’s “Washington Journal” political commentary has earned him the reputation as the “most patient man on television.”
Be that as it may, the real problem is Scully’s past working for Democratic politicians, leaving critics questioning whether he’ll pull another Wallace and get in the trenches for Biden, even if there is little danger of a Candy Crowley moment from a man like Scully.
His bio as a keynote speaker at a Utah Valley University conference a decade ago said he “served as an intern in the office of Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden, and later a staff assistant in Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s media affairs office.”
In 2011, he told The Cable Center that he also worked on former President Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, where he stood in for Mr. Peanut (no joke) in a photo-op with the peanut farmer turned awful president.
Scully is also on the record railing against Fox News for covering the “titillating news of the day” rather than more serious issues in a May 2011 interview with Journalism Jobs.
He made it clear which cable news network he was talking about when he offered, “if you’re sick and tired of watching Laci Peterson on the Fox News Channel, then you can come on to C-SPAN and understand the process that we do in following it,” describing the network’s coverage of the sensational murder of a pregnant woman shortly before Christmas in 2002.
To his credit, Scully warned of partisan news coverage, saying it would be a “shame if we go down the path where everyone looks at The Washington Post and The New York Times and dismisses them as being supportive or critical of Republicans.”
Still, he threw in criticism for opinion journalism from “Fox, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly” and again slighted Fox, using the network’s catchphrase to urge news outlets to “be truly fair and balanced, and not just to say it as a slogan for a cable network.”
While it seems Scully is a decent man, his experience working for Democrats and his words against right-wing media have Trump allies concerned that he will not be impartial.
“The last debate moderator Chris Wallace was a totally biased partisan who kept rescuing Biden,” talk radio host Mark Simone tweeted Thursday.
“The next debate moderator is C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, who once worked in Joe Biden’s office, before working for Ted Kennedy. Could the debate committee be less obvious?”
The last debate moderator Chris Wallace was a totally biased partisan who kept rescuing Biden.
The next debate moderator is C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, who once worked in Joe Biden’s office, before working for Ted Kennedy. Could the debate committee be less obvious? #debate
— MARK SIMONE (@MarkSimoneNY) October 1, 2020
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also pointed out Wallace’s partisanship and raised concerns about Scully.
“Everyone agrees Tuesday’s debate was a train wreck. A major contributing fact was the moderator Chris Wallace, a registered Democrat, repeatedly interrupting to try to help Joe Biden,” he wrote in a lengthy thread Thursday.
“The next debate is set to be moderated by a former intern to…Joe Biden. (And Ted Kennedy.)”
1/x Everyone agrees Tuesday’s debate was a train wreck. A major contributing fact was the moderator Chris Wallace, a registered Democrat, repeatedly interrupting to try to help Joe Biden. The next debate is set to be moderated by a former intern to…Joe Biden. (And Ted Kennedy.)
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 1, 2020
Critics are right to be concerned, as it isn’t just way back that Scully was palling around with Democrats.
In a June 2016 tweet, the host shared a photo of himself and Biden side by side and grinning at what he captioned, “Biden Beach Bash ’16.”
— Steve Scully (@SteveScully) June 4, 2016
Clearly, even if Scully earnestly attempts to be impartial, it hardly seems proper to have him moderating a debate in which one of the candidates is his pal and former employer.
There is no such thing as a completely impartial moderator, but with Scully’s track record working for Democrats like Carter, Biden and Kennedy, it is obvious where his loyalties lie.
The American public needs truly fair debates, not another dumpster fire moderated by a partisan hack stumping for the Democrat.
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