This is the second ABC-sponsored Democratic debate for the purpose of airing snippets at a later time. In May, snippets ran on “This Week,” and tonight on “Nightline.” As for ABC’s record in promoting/airing debates, Brent Bozell recalls 1999.
The Republicans assembled three times in December of 1999. The first two debates, on December 2 and 6, drew no ABC evening news summation, not even a snippet on the nights after the events. The third debate, on December 12, finally earned a few video clips – so reporter Dean Reynolds could attack candidate George Bush as “stiff, uninformed, programmed, or all three,” while media darling McCain “appeared confident.”
But when liberals gathered to push their agenda, ABC rolled out the red carpet. On December 16, “Nightline” devoted itself to a New Hampshire town meeting with two favored candidates, liberal Republican McCain and liberal Democrat Bill Bradley, to promote their alliance behind the cause of harsher campaign finance regulations. The next night, ABC sponsored a special 90-minute “Nightline” debate for liberal Al Gore and Bradley. The questions from Koppel were softballs, even silly. What kind of First Ladies would their wives make? What “distinguishes” them to be a better president?