GA Congressional Race: Debate Moderator Fact Checks Ossoff; Newspapers Avoid

June 9th, 2017 1:05 PM

Imagine if a candidate during a debate makes a statement so outright erroneous that the debate moderator takes time to fact check him with the truth. A very notable moment you might say. Well, not according to a couple of liberal newspapers, including a local one, who again acted as information cloaking devices by not mentioning the debate moderator correction.

This was the case in the June 8 debate between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff, candidates in the Georgia 6th Congressional District special election to be held on June 20. Ossoff told such a big whopper that the debate moderator had to intercede as you can see below.

JON OSSOFF: And Planned Parenthood provides hundreds of thousands of breast screenings per year and now Secretary Handel has said that she didn't lead the effort. So she was either telling the truth then or she's telling the truth now.

MODERATOR: We're going to move on. On Planned Parenthood, though, so bear with me. We've got a couple of fact checks here that might please both sides, make both sides less than happy. Planned Parenthood, according to the fact-checkers at 'The Washington Post,' does, in fact, not provide mammograms. It does do physical exams, so the claim from Secretary Handel that it does not provide mammograms was rated true.

Such a very public correction in the middle of a debate would be big news...except among the usual liberal news outlets such as the New York Times. Although the Times described Planned Parenthood as one of the "dominant issues" of the debate, the correction by the debate moderator of Ossoff's glaringly incorrect Planned Parenthood claim was sent down the memory hole:

The dominant issues in this debate, as in the last one, were health care and funding for Planned Parenthood, and once again Mr. Ossoff assailed Ms. Handel for her past role at the Susan G. Komen foundation, a breast cancer advocacy organization. Ms. Handel, he said, “resigned in disgrace” after seeking to end the organization’s relationship with Planned Parenthood. And Mr. Ossoff quoted Ms. Handel, who abruptly left the group over the funding controversy, as having taken credit for confronting Planned Parenthood.

Ms. Handel has struggled to rebut Mr. Ossoff’s criticism on this issue throughout the race, and struggled again on Thursday. She played down her role in the Komen controversy and said she favored funding community health centers instead of Planned Parenthood. Mr. Ossoff, she said with apparent exasperation, was “really stuck on this issue.”

The newspaper in whose circulation area this special election is taking place, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, performed something especially sneaky. They placed the correction the debate moderator made in parenthesis without noting it was a correction of Ossoff's false assertion by that moderator:

From there, the two scrapped over Handel’s time at the breast-cancer charity, where she served as a vice president of public policy during a controversial decision to cut ties with Planned Parenthood. The move made her a hero to religious conservatives and propelled her to the national spotlight.

Calling it a self-serving political move, Ossoff said it cost the foundation millions of dollars and made it harder for women to get health screenings and other treatment.

Handel, who asserted in Tuesday’s debate that she didn’t “engineer” that move, dropped that line of response on Thursday.

“I led the effort to find a way to have those dollars that were going to an organization that did not even provide mammograms, cannot legally provide mammograms, be reinvested,” she said.

(Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform mammograms but conducts hundreds of thousands of breast-cancer screenings each year.)

Yes, a bit awkward with that parenthesis bit but at least it was better for the AJC than informing its readers about Ossoff making a big error and being corrected by the moderator. Oh, the moderator was mentioned in that article but not in the way you would expect from what actually happened:

Pressed by moderator Denis O’Hayer, who noted she held a fundraiser with Trump in late April, Handel pleaded for patience with the investigations while also trying to assert her independence from the president.

Gee, I wonder who liberal newspapers such as the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution favor in this election? Could their articles offer some clues about this? Hmmm....