Reviews | GOP withdraws from Debate Committee
RNC President Ronna McDaniel issued this statement: “Debates are an important part of the democratic process, and the RNC is committed to free and fair debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates is biased and has refused to enact simple, common-sense reforms to help ensure fair debates, including holding debates before voting begins and selecting moderators who have never worked for candidates on the debate stage.
The action took a long time to prepare. The RNC sent a letter to the CPD in June, and another in January, then followed up with an op-ed by McDaniel for Breitbart. A central argument concerns the Debate Committee’s decision to appoint Steve Scully, then of C-SPAN, to moderate a debate during the 2020 presidential campaign between then-President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The GOP reproach is that Scully had “worked for” Biden when he was a senator.
Technically, yes; practically, not even close. As a 17-year-old freshman at American University, Scully took a congressional and presidential course that included an assignment to a congressional office. Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Scully was a logical candidate to work in the office of Sen. John Heinz, a Republican, but was told there was no availability. So the school found him a place in Biden’s office, where he worked part-time for six weeks in the Delaware senator’s mailroom. “I literally opened the mail, read it, sorted it, and put it in different bins,” Scully recalls. “I never even got a picture with the guy.”
All this took place in 1978 — before Scully worked as a local TV news anchor and reporter and before a 31-year career at C-SPAN. Incidentally, during this C-SPAN streak, Scully became known for his patience and absolute neutrality. In nearly 8,000 interviews, Scully says, “I never expressed an opinion on the tune one way or the other.”
As Trump slammed him on Fox News for allegedly being a “never Trumper,” Scully tweeted at former Trump aide-turned-critic Anthony Scaramucci with a question about whether he should respond. The town hall-style debate that Scully was to moderate was canceled after Trump rejected a virtual format to accommodate covid-19 concerns. After Scully’s tweeted question to Scaramucci gained attention on Twitter, Scully inexplicably lied that he had been hacked, and C-SPAN subsequently suspended him.
In his op-ed on Breitbart, McDaniel put a misleading spin on the question: “It came as no surprise to Republicans when Mr. Scully accidentally revealed before the debate that he was seeking advice on how to attack President Trump. .” It was Scully, in fact, who was being attacked. “That’s 100% inaccurate,” Scully says of the RNC’s version of events.
Another allegation of bias by the RNC dates back to 2012, when President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney clashed over the attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Republicans had criticized Obama for slowing down this act of terrorism, and the issue surfaced during a CPD debate moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley. “In 2012, CNN anchor Candy Crowley interfered in the debate and falsely accused our candidate of lying,” McDaniel wrote in her op-ed.
False: Crowley merely verified Romney’s claim that Obama did not call Benghazi an “act of terror” until two weeks after the fact. She pointed out that Romney was “right” on a related point. There was no allegation of lying.
The RNC is also aggrieved that several members of the commission’s board – six out of 10, according to McDaniel’s op-ed – said “derogatory things about the Republican nominee”. Board member Richard Parsons, who served in Ford’s White House, told The Hollywood Reporter about Trump: “He is, in almost every way you want to identify, ill-equipped to be the President of the United States.” After Trump’s horrific remarks after the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville in 2017, John Danforth, another board member and former senator from Missouri, wrote in The Post that “our party has been corrupted by this hateful man, and he is now in peril. ”
Both of these fellows are Republicans, which begs the question: Do Republican members of the CPD have to pledge loyalty to Trump to meet the demands of the RNC? Other RNC concerns relate to the timing of debates — at least one should precede the start of early voting — and other procedural matters.
The written denunciations of the RNC to the commission of debates are revealing documents. Think of the amount of material the RNC had to critique here: hours upon hours of debate programming spread across nine presidential election cycles dating back to 1988. Yet all they can muster is the internship of Steve Scully mail and a few other fringes they have to exaggerate to argue. effect.