Aside from the fireworks inside the debate hall at Sunday’s second presidential debate, one campaign controversy that bubbled up that CBS and NBC refused to acknowledge in their post-debate analysis was a tweet from a Hillary Clinton campaign aide telling Donald Trump to “go fuck [himself]” regarding his treatment of the Khan family.
Clinton campaign foreign policy aide Jesse Lehrich dropped a tweet during the debate on his personal account stating the following: “hey @realDonaldTrump — regarding your claim that Captain Khan would be alive if you were president: go fuck yourself. #debate.”
Despite the vulgarity and wallowing over the lack of decorum in the presidential election, only ABC found 30 seconds to cover Lehrich’s remarks and the obvious anger inside Clinton’s campaign for what one of their teammates did.
Clinton campaign correspondent Cecilia Vega was summarizing the post-debate reactions from her sources when she told chief anchor and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos that she had to pause and discuss how “[p]eople are angry right now” at him.
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“There is one Clinton campaign staffer who used a profanity directly at Donald Trump on Twitter, talking about the Captain Khan comments. He had to apologize for that. Right now, people are not happy about what happened tonight,” Vega explained.
Stephanopoulos seemed confused as if he had never heard about the tweet yet when he asked in a follow-up about “which part in particular” regarding the Khans when they came up in the debate and whether what Trump said about Captain Khan being alive if he had been president “was just too tough.”
Vega eventually moved back to the overall debate spin from Clinton world, but not without responding to Stephanopoulos: “They thought he was tough. They did not like what he said about that and I can't even tell you what exactly the tweet said, because we couldn't air it on television, but not just that.”
Looking at this kerfuffle, it’s safe to say that CBS and NBC (which aired debate coverage on its subchannels due to Sunday Night Football) would have had wall-to-wall coverage seconds after the actual debate between Clinton and Trump ended to illustrate the further acceleration of American political discourse into the gutter.
The relevant portion of the transcript from ABC’s post-presidential debate coverage on October 9 can be found below.
ABC’s presidential debate coverage
October 9, 2016
10:51 p.m. Eastern
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s go to Cecilia Vega. She’s been with the Clinton campaign. What are they telling you?
CECILIA VEGA: George, let me just tell you some of the words that my sources are using to describe this night. Of Donald Trump, a desperate attempt. They say he did nothing to stabilize his campaign. One person called it a sideshow to detract from the issues. They are saying that he failed at trying to unnerve Hillary Clinton. They say that they are using words like grace and class when she invoked Michelle Obama. The “they go low, we go high,” but I have to tell you George. People are angry right now. There is one Clinton campaign staffer who used a profanity directly at Donald Trump on Twitter, talking about the Captain Khan comments. He had to apologize for that. Right now, people are not happy about what happened tonight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But which part in particular? You’re saying the Captain Khan comment? They thought he was just too tough?
VEGA: They thought he was tough. They did not like what he said about that and I can't even tell you what exactly the tweet said, because we couldn't air it on television, but not just that. Look, they say that he — that Donald Trump, you know, that he did a desperate attempt to try and distract from the issues. They say Hillary Clinton will help — will win over undecided female voters, especially that all-important demographic that both candidates are trying to win right now with her response when it comes to women and not his.