NBC Debate Moderators Pepper Republicans with Questions from the Left
By Brent Baker | September 08, 2011 | 07:58
NBC’s Brian Williams and Politico’s John Harris peppered the NBC News/Politico debate inside the Air Force One pavilion at the Reagan Library with questions from the left, repeatedly pressing the Republican presidential candidates with liberal talking points and Democratic agenda items.
That’s time which could have been better spent advancing issues and concerns of Republican primary voters interested in differences amongst the candidates, not in forcing the candidates to defend conservative positions despised by MSNBC viewers and hosts. (Compilation video after jump)
Williams hit Texas Governor Rick Perry from the left on his state’s poor economic indicators (“no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage”) , chastised him for cutting education funding and, citing how “your state has executed 234 death row inmates,” demanded to know whether he’s “struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”
Audio: MP3 clip which matches the 2:30 video above.
Williams was taken aback when the audience applauded Perry’s death penalty record, prompting a befuddled Williams to follow up: “What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”
Williams was also confounded by Ron Paul’s libertarian views, quizzing him about how the nation would survive without FEMA and confusingly ruminated about no federal air traffic control: “All the pilots in the sky, to add to their responsibilities, their own air traffic control, in an organic way.” He also hailed former Democratic President Lyndon Johnson for addressing the need for government to provide meals to school kids, wondering: “Do you think that is any more -- providing nutrition in schools for children -- a role of the federal government?”
Challenging Senator Rick Santorum, Williams lectured him about how Santorum’s “Catholic faith, has as a part of it, caring for the poor.” Williams insisted Santorum explain: “Where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration?”
Williams’ liberal advocacy and hostility to conservatives shouldn’t have come as any surprise given his history as documented in the MRC’s Media Reality Check, by Geoffrey Dickens, released on Tuesday, “Brian Williams Vs. Tea Party Conservatives: GOP Debate Moderator Has Long History of Admiring Obama and Badgering Republicans from the Left.”
Harris, Editor-in-Chief of Politico, contrasted the success in liberal Massachusetts with failure in conservative Texas: “Massachusetts has nearly universal health insurance – it’s first in the country. In Texas, about a quarter of the people don't have health insurance. That's 50 out of 50, dead last. Sir, it's pretty hard to defend dead last.”
With Ron Paul, Harris noted General Electric’s huge profits, but “paid no taxes. Perfectly legal, but does it strike you as fair?”
MSNBC’s post-debate, as promised, was dominated 12-to-2 by left-wingers, with Rachel Maddow anchoring and the network’s usual prime time gang (Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz) all taking turns denouncing the conservative positions taken by the GOP candidates.
Many, but certainly not all, of the questions posed from the left during the September 7 NBC News/Politico Republican presidential debate from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation’s museum and library in Simi Valley, California, as carried live on MSNBC from 5 to about 6:50 PM PDT:
Brian Williams to Texas Governor Rick Perry:
Governor Perry, we're going to begin with you. You're the newcomer here on stage, you probably saw this coming a mile away. You have touted your state's low taxes, the lack of regulation, tough tort reform, as the recipe for job growth in the Lone Star state, but Texas ranks last among those who have completed high school, there are only eight other states with more living in poverty, no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage, so is that the kind of answer all Americans are looking for?
Williams to Congressman Ron Paul:
You're known as the absolutist in the bunch, someone who has consistently opposed federal government from having any role, and I think by your definition, that isn't explicitly laid out in the Constitution, so this makes people curious. Is there a line with you, where do you draw it? Does this include things like making cars safe, making medicine safe, air traffic control, controlling the jets above our heads?
Thirty seconds more for devil's advocate here because would you then put it on the drug companies to say no, we're bringing this to market, trust us, it's a fantastic drug. All the pilots in the sky, to add to their responsibilities, their own air traffic control, in an organic way.
Politico’s John Harris:
Governor Perry, you clearly don't like the Massachusetts plan as an example for other states, but Massachusetts has nearly universal health insurance – it’s first in the country. In Texas, about a quarter of the people don't have health insurance. That's 50 out of 50, dead last. Sir, it's pretty hard to defend dead last.
Senator Santorum, on another front, you're a devout Catholic, you've always said that you cannot, will not, place it aside in your role in elected public life. In fact, you thought President Kennedy, the first to be elected President, did so a little bit too much with his own religion. Having said that, the Catholic faith, has as a part of it, caring for the poor. One in seven people in this country, now, qualifies as poor. Where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration?
Governor Perry, a somewhat related question. I’ll quote the Pew Research Center. They recently found white households have 20 times the median wealth of black households in the United States. How would you address that question, that problem, as President?
Governor Perry, you said you wrote the book Fed Up to start a conversation, congratulations, it has certainly done that in recent weeks. In the book, you call Social Security the best example of a program that quote “violently tossed aside any respect for state's rights.” We understand your position that it's got funding problems now, I'd like you to explain your view that Social Security was wrong right from the beginning.
Williams, to Paul:
Let me ask you something else, it’s related in a way, it has to do with Mother Nature. Before the broadcast, Senator Santorum's got flooding today in Pennsylvania, Governor Perry is back from the wildfires out east, category one storm laid waste to entire areas, there’s standing water tonight in Paterson, New Jersey, many of the towns around where I live, eight days without power. We had people eating in outdoor and public parks because the supermarkets were closed down. Question is, federal aid, something like FEMA, if you object to what it’s become, how it’s run. Your position is to remove it, take it away, abolish it, what happens in its absence?
Governor Perry, you can't have much of a workforce without a basis of education. As you know, your state ranks among the worst in the country in high school graduation rates, as we established. Yet, you recently signed a budget cut for billions in education funding, you pushed for greater cuts than were in the budget that the legislature passed. You’ve said that education is a top priority, but explain cutting it the way you did, please?
Governor Romney -- you often hear this figure, 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, and the promised effort underway soon, at least, in Washington to correct that. Isn't some of this argument semantics and won't the effort to correct that be a defacto tax increase?
Williams, to Perry:
Question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times – [ audience cheers and applause ] -- have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?
What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?
Harris, to Cain:
General Electric corporation made $2 billion in profits worldwide but paid no taxes. Perfectly legal, but does it strike you as fair?
Congressman Paul, a long time ago, a fellow Texan of yours, a young student teacher in Cotulla, Texas, was horrified to see young kids coming into the classroom hungry, some of them with distended bellies because of hunger. He made a vow that if he had anything to do about it the government would provide meals, hot meals at best, in schools. The young student teacher, of course, later went on to be President Lyndon Johnson. Do you think that is any more -- providing nutrition in schools for children -- a role of the federal government?