The Corner

Elections

Tim Alberta Is a First-Rate Journalist. The DNC Should Quit Whining.

Tim Alberta on Morning Joe in July. (MSNBC/Screenshot via YouTube)

Apparently unnamed figures at the Democratic National Committee, PBS, and perhaps even Politico are objecting to the suggestion that Tim Alberta, formerly one of our colleagues at National Review, be a moderator for the December Democratic presidential primary debate. Apparently Tim’s work for NR disqualifies him from this role, at least in the eyes of the DNC: “Democratic Party officials say such a journalist is ill-suited to co-moderate a debate meant to better inform Democratic voters about their potential nominees.”

I’m not sure Tim was here long enough to catch the conservative cooties from the rest of us. He joined us in October 2015 from National Journal and was snatched away by Politico in December 2016. We were sad to see him go; hopefully Politico enticed him away by backing up a Brinks truck. In that year and change, all Tim did was cover the year’s wild and tumultuous developments with clarity, depth, and meticulous shoe-leather reporting and interviewing. Go ahead, read through his work in the archives. Look for the article that somehow makes him too dangerous and menacing to unleash against aspiring presidents.

Earlier this year, Tim wrote a bestselling nonfiction book about how Donald Trump took over the Republican party. It was not a series of hosannas and cheers for either Trump or the Republican establishment he toppled. He interviewed more than 300 figures in Republican and conservative circles to paint the definitive, 600-page portrait of how a party changed so dramatically and so quickly. That notoriously right-wing New York Times called it “fascinating” and saluted the depth of “reporting and a real understanding of the conservative movement.”

What DNC officials meant to say is that they’re a bunch of wimps and cowards who want to keep their Fabergé egg candidates in bubble wrap until the Iowa caucuses. These folks all want to be the next commander-in-chief of the free world, but apparently they can’t be subjected to anything as nerve-wracking and devastating as a question or two from the world’s most mild-mannered Detroit Lions fan.

Hey, news flash, DNC: These candidates are running for president of the United States, and presidents inevitably have to deal with the unexpected. (Maybe the DNC got used to Donna Brazile–style arrangements, where the candidates received beforehand.) If you curl up into a ball or run away at the thought of a question from a guy who was with National Review for about a year, you’re going to lose bladder control while dealing with Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un.

Our current president has an encyclopedia of flaws, but you know what? He takes a lot of questions from reporters who don’t necessarily like him or agree with him, almost every day. He may not do a lot of formal press conferences, but he takes a few questions almost every day, either going to and from his helicopter, or in Oval Office events. You may not like those answers. You may find those answers dishonest. But Trump isn’t afraid to take questions from anybody. He even took questions from Tim Alberta!

Enough whining and sniveling about the possibility that a moderator might ask a question you don’t like, DNC. If you want to have Rachel Maddow moderate, fine. But have enough self-respect to agree to subject your candidates to the mere possibility of a question that might not easily be dispatched with prepackaged talking points.

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