This MSNBC Analyst Bashes CNN on Comedy Central for 'Setting Up Contention'

Straight off the heels of night two, round two of the Democratic presidential primary debates, Daily Show host Trevor Noah offered his insights live with MSNBC political analyst and former Obama pollster, Cornell Belcher.

Towards the end of the discussion, Belcher took the opportunity to scrutinize CNN for their somewhat incendiary debate format:

 

 

I don't want to beat up on CNN, but I'm going to beat up on CNN a little bit. The way they set it up, they almost set it up so there would be contention...I don't think that was particularly helpful and I certainly hope we won't see that again. I would rather for them to ask questions, ok tell us about your health care plan and why is your healthcare plan better — better than everyone else's. Now if someone else wants to — wants to — want to — wants to pivot back in on that, that's fine, but don't set up the tension.

Rewinding to earlier in the discussion, Senator Kamala Harris (CA) was surprisingly the first target of scrutiny for Belcher as he unpacked her tiff with Vice President Biden and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard over criminal justice reform:

But I thought the interesting back and forth between him and Senator Harris, like, you've got to be careful because obviously she has a bit of a glass jaw on the crime bill as well and as Tulsi punched her — Tulsi, to me, was the punch of the night.

Noah notably agreed that Harris seemed taken aback by Gabbard’s stab and pondered the reason behind it, “When you look at Kamala Harris, why do you think that glass jaw moment is so severe for her? Because, you know, Joe Biden gets attacked but his support among black voters remains strong. With Kamala it does feel like that's a weakness, why?”

In typical liberal fashion, Belcher decided to dedicate his response to warning Harris of the “stereotypes” against “angry black women.’

You know, so I think there is also a part of her where she has got to be careful. I can't say this on television, right, but if I were advising her, I'd say there are stereotypes out there about angry black women and there are some cues that you have to be careful because it turns people off and it's not fair, but I think there were moments where she flashed anger tonight and I don't think that's particularly helpful.

Noah then contemplated what purpose the debates would serve if the infighting between the Democrats will continue:

When we look at the larger narrative, though. One thing that concerns me and — and people who watched the previous debates was, the narrative coming into the main debates was, Democrats are not here to fight against each other. It will be a battle of ideas to present to America who should be the next leader. It seems like that has quickly devolved into — you’re the worst, you’re the worst, here is your bad record. Does this work for Democrats by putting them and keeping them in the news. Or does it hurt them by basically breaking them apart before the main race?

In all fairness, CNN’s debate layout may not be perfect, but at least they managed to escape any technical errors. We are looking at you, MSNBC.

Transcript below:

Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
7/31/19
11:25:55 p.m. Eastern

TREVOR NOAH: So, let's get straight into it, tonight was a night where most people were looking to see how Joe Biden would recover from his first debate performance. Do you think he did a good job?

BELCHER: I think Joe found the magic again, I think he woke up. I don't know if he took some uppers or something, but he certainly — he certainly was flat the first debate and this debate it seemed like he was prepared, ready. They came at him with a lot of punches but he gave as good as he — he got this evening. I thought he was the adult in the room that a lot of people thought he would be in the first debate. This debate, he came back and had a solid performance.

NOAH: He really had an interesting tactic this time because the first time around, he seemed surprised by what had happened.

BELECHER: Yes.

NOAH: But even from the beginning of the debate, as we saw, when he came out he said to Kamala "take it easy on me kid." But I mean that was him going “I know what is about to happen, in a way.” When it came to records, it was interesting that they brought up his record but then he brought up his record.

BELECHER: Yes.

NOAH: Is a record a good or bad thing to have in this situation?

BELCHER: The good news for his opponents is he has a long record. The bad news for his opponents is he has a long record. I mean he has a long record of actually accomplishing things and doing things. The whole thing, the back and forth about the Hyde Amendment, he pointed out the fact that most people on the stage had supported the Hyde Amendment. So he does have a solid record but there are some things there that certainly are problematic, certainly around the crime bill. But I thought the interesting back and forth between him and Senator Harris, like, you've got to be careful because obviously she has a bit of a glass jaw on the crime bill as well and as Tulsi punched her — Tulsi, to me, was the punch of the night.

NOAH: Right. Yes. Yes.

BELCHER: It was the punch of the night and I think she was staggered by that punch. I thought that was a line. I had also thought Cory Booker may have had the blackest moment in presidential primary history.

NOAH: I don't think anyone has brought Kool-aid out at a debate.

BELCHER: Historically — never anything as black as that in primary history, in debate history.

NOAH: When you look at Kamala Harris, why do you think that glass jaw moment is so severe for her? Because, you know, Joe Biden gets attacked but his support among black voters remains strong. With Kamala it does feel like that's a weakness, why?

BELCHER: Well, it is interesting because, and by the way I will remind people that — that Obama started off at this point, he was not winning African American voters, either. As a matter of fact he wasn't winning anywhere, he was 30 points behind everywhere. But African-American voters are such a large swath of — of — of the electorate and you will notice that, in her attacks from the first debate which she rose in the polls, it didn't come primarily from African- American voters.

NOAH: Interesting.

BELCHER: You know, so I think there is also a part of her where she has got to be careful. I can't say this on television, right, but if I were advising her, I'd say there are stereotypes out there about angry black women and there are some cues that you have to be careful because it turns people off and it's not fair, but I think there were moments where she flashed anger tonight and I don't think that's particularly helpful.

NOAH: That's an interesting point that you bring up, because —

BELCHER: But I didn't say that.

NOAH: — no, no, no you didn't. We're not live. There is no one here and no one is seeing this. No, no, no, but — but you know it is an honest and interesting point that you bring up, is that there is a double standard in the world that you live in.

BELECHER: Yeah.

NOAH: Where if you are a man and you get angry, they go like, the passion is strong.

BELCHER: Strong.

NOAH: Right but now Kamala has to, you know, figure out how to — how to straddle that line between showing her passion while it’s not coming across as any of the stereotypes.

BELCHER: And it's even worse for African-American women. African-American women have it very tough.

NOAH: Right.

BELCHER: Newsflash, African-American women have it really tough.

(....)

11:30:55 p.m. Eastern

NOAH: When we look at the larger narrative, though. One thing that concerns me and — and people who watched the previous debates was, the narrative coming into the main debates was, Democrats are not here to fight against each other. It will be a battle of ideas to present to America who should be the next leader. It seems like that has quickly devolved into — you’re the worst, you’re the worst, here is your bad record. Does this work for Democrats by putting them and keeping them in the news. Or does it hurt them by basically breaking them apart before the main race?

BELCHER: I don't want to beat up on CNN, but I'm going to beat up on CNN a little bit. [LAUGHTER] The way they set it up, they almost set it up so there would be contention.

NOAH: Yeah.

BELCHER: And the way they asked questions sort of directed back at other candidates, it set up a format for fights, intention, which can be good ratings, but I think that the substance of the debate was — was — was hurt. We were 20 or 30 minutes into the health care debate and we didn't really have a great understanding of people’s health care positions because they were just defending and attacking.

NOAH: Right.

BELECHER: I don't think that was particularly helpful and I certainly hope we won't see that again. I would rather for them to ask questions, ok tell us about your health care plan and why is your healthcare plan better — better than everyone else's. Now if someone else wants to — wants to — want to — wants to pivot back in on that, that's fine, but don't set up the tension.

NOAH: That’s an interesting point.

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