The Corner

Politics & Policy

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: I’m Trying to Manipulate the Debates for Democracy

Some lies are so extraordinarily brazen in nature that one is reluctantly rather impressed by them. This one — as with so much that comes out of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s mouth — falls squarely into that category:

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Sunday said she scheduled primary debates with the goal of maximizing media attention for the party’s presidential candidates.

“I did my best to make sure, along with my staff and along with our debate partners, to come up with a schedule that we felt was going . . . to maximize the opportunity for voters to see our candidates,” Wasserman Schultz said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

And how so? Well:

Wasserman Schultz said scheduling more debates would “take away” from opportunities for voters to see candidates in person on the campaign trail.

Brilliant.

Leaving aside that debates are in fact complementary to campaigning — where else can you see your favorite candidate challenged rather than bolstered? — this really is no answer at all. Had Wasserman Schultz been asked why the Democrats hadn’t hosted 30 or 40 debates, her response might have been reasonable. But she wasn’t, and besides, that’s not the primary criticism of this year’s schedule. The primary criticism is that the Democratic party has organized only six debates in toto, and that it has elected to air them when nobody will be watching. As the official schedule confirms, the last three Democratic debates have been held on the weekend, one of them in direct competition with a major sporting event. Another debate — cleverly called a “forum” and set apart from the sanctioned events — was broadcast on Fusion, which most people haven’t heard of, let alone subscribed to.

By taking the approach that she has, Wasserman Schultz is hoping that the audience will think she was being asked, “Why have you kept the number of debates so low?” when she was really being asked, “Why have you made sure that the few debates you are holding will gain no audience?”

The answer to that second question is obvious. As The Hill observes,

Democrats have criticized the chairwoman, a congresswoman from Florida, for limiting the number of debates, accusing the party of displaying favoritism toward front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Given how acutely the polls have tightened, this ploy may ultimately be backfiring. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer politician.

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