Maddow to Hillary: Did You Push for a 'Light' Debate Schedule?

Could it be ... is it remotely possible ... that MSNBC might eventually become a legitimate news organization?

Odds are that this can't happen since the network's unshakeable leftist ideology would, by its inherently intolerant nature, not acquiesce to the inevitable demands of objective journalism.

But eternal optimists glimpsed a ray of hope Monday night when Rachel Maddow asked a potentially awkward question of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

This past Friday Maddow noticed that Democrats are running considerably fewer debates than Republicans in this election cycle -- six for the GOP, three for the Dems -- with the pattern persisting well into February.

"It's kind of amazing," Maddow pointed out. "The Democratic Party has done everything it can to ensure the smallest possible audiences for their candidates' debates this year."

 As I pointed out over the weekend, it was also amazing that Maddow, who had interviewed Hillary Clinton the previous night (January 14), neglected to ask Clinton if she pushed for the sparse debate schedule, as speculated for months.

During another interview with Clinton last night, Maddow broached the subject -- 

MADDOW: Last night's debate, Madam Secretary, was the last Democratic debate until mid-February. I'm struck by the fact that even though the Republicans just had a debate and they're about have another debate before Iowa, there isn't another Democratic debate before Iowa or before the primary in New Hampshire. Do you wish there were more debates? Are you enjoying these debates when they do happen?

CLINTON: I love the debates, I really (forced cackle) do! I feel, uh, that it gives me a chance to, uh, get up on, uh, the stage and explain my positions, answer questions from the moderators, uh, draw contrasts with my opponents. Uh, so, it's been, uh, a good experience for me so far and I think it's helped me, uh, make, uh, you know, my case for, uh, my candidacy.

How can you tell when Clinton is lying, aside from when she moves her lips? When Clinton decides it's time to emulate Ted Kennedy, an equally leaden-footed senator of yore who couldn't answer a question without resorting to a blizzard of "uh"s.

Apparently unsatisfied, Maddow makes another pass --

MADDOW: The sparse Democratic Party debate schedule, um, this year, particularly when compared to the Republicans', uh (Maddow now emulating Clinton), a lot of people in the political press have ascribed that to your campaign, have ascribed that decision to your campaign essentially wanting a low profile and spare debate schedule. Whether or not, uh, now looking back you think it was a good decision, is it true that your campaign advocated for a light schedule and particularly these debates being on, on in TV Siberia, on weekends and holidays?

CLINTON: Well, Rachel, I really don't have any knowledge of that. I'm not saying that nobody representing me or the other campaigns, uh, didn't express an opinion. But it was my understanding that in looking at the, uh, the sequencing of these debates, looking at the, uh, numbers of people who watched back in '08, uh, there was a decision to try to have a monthly debate once people were beginning to pay attention ...

Which can be traced squarely to the Tuesday after Labor Day last year -- more than four months ago. Note the passive voice: "there was a decision" --

CLINTON: ... and try to drive more viewership than actually, I believe, uh, that we've had more viewers on average, uh, this year than we did back in '08. So, I'm not going to, you know, substitute my judgment for whatever, uh, the thought process, uh, was and as to when they've been scheduled, again, what I'm told is that they were, uh, partnered with broadcast networks, uh, that wanted to, uh, provide the time and indeed for most broadcast networks Saturday or Sunday, uh, was preferable. 

Thus explaining why not a single one of the six GOP debates has been held on a Saturday or Sunday, despite Clinton's claim that doing so would "indeed" be, uh, "preferable" for the networks.

CLINTON: But because the viewership has been, uh, above average I think people feel like, uh, there is a method to their, uh, process.

MADDOW: Well, if you and Senator Sanders and Gov. O'Malley ever decide that you want more and you don't want to negotiate it, you can all just show up here, uh, and I'll help. (Clinton cackles again, scarier this time).

Anyone expecting a candid answer from Clinton is just becoming acquainted with her. It was also too much to expect that Maddow would even ask Clinton about this, let alone press further. To her credit, Maddow defied expectations.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts