SNL, Farrakhan Prominent in Democratic Debate

February 27, 2008 10:49 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Health care, NAFTA and Iraq were the evening's main policy topics. But a skit and a question about Louis Farrakhan dominate the reporting.

30-Second Summary

For the first 20 minutes, the candidates argued the merits of their health care plans, proposals that describes as 95 percent identical.

Despite the time spent on that issue, the post-debate analysis focused closely on Hillary Clinton’s opening comments about media bias.

Clinton referred to a Saturday Night Live skit in which a moderator fawns over Sen. Obama. She continued, “I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues.”

The New York Daily News and John Nichol of The Nation described the comment, respectively, as a “whining” and “cringe-worthy” faux pas that could only damage her campaign.

The New York Times, however, pointed out that she has, indeed, answered the first question in all three debates with Obama. In one of two articles on the issue, the Times wrote that “the MSNBC debate did look a bit like the SNL parody.”

The Weekly Standard conceded that moderator Tim Russert “didn’t make it easy on her, but then she hasn’t made it easy on herself either.”

Russert came under fire from another angle, as well. He pressed Obama on how the candidate felt to receive praise from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farakhan, who has been repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism. Talking Point Memo described this as “Russert’s lowest moment.”

Words like “heated” and “testy” featured largely in the reporting on the debate. But progressive magazine Mother Jones concluded that it was “largely a repeat of last Thursday’s face-off.”

That publication, however, did not part from the consensus that the front runner, Barack Obama, came off best from the encounter.

Headline Links: The Ohio debate

Background: ‘Mailers and Photo Heat Up Democratic Race’

Analysis: Victory for Obama?

Obama the orator

Opinion: The first question, the SNL sketch and Farrakhan

Saturday Night Live
Louis Farrakhan

Reference: The health care plans

Related Topic: Russian election debate ends in scuffle


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