News Release

Corporate Media-Run Debates Pushing for Militarism

ANDREW BACEVICH, bacevich at bu.edu, @QuincyInst
President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Bacevich said today: “Polls suggest that Americans have had their fill of ‘endless wars.’ Yet the questions posed by journalists at the most recent Democratic presidential debate never bothered to explore even the possibility of a less bellicose approach to U.S. policy.  A missed opportunity, to put it mildly.”

SAM HUSSEINI, sam at accuracy.org, @samhusseini
Senior analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini said today: “The CBS debate last night echoed a familiar pattern: Corporate media outlets, especially during presidential debates, questioned candidates from a more militaristic, at times xenophobic perspective.” See @accuracy2020.

Husseini continued: “Moderators in South Carolina speaking in a hall where people paid thousands of dollars to enter perpetuation the claims of U.S. government officials,  that have been disseminated without supporting evidence (that Russia is helping Bernie Sanders for example). They questioned how withdrawing troops would help security — without questioning how continuing U.S. wars would help security. They questioned in the strongest terms the conduct and trustworthiness of other countries — China, Cuba, Russia, Syria — which is fine in principle except the U.S. establishment and its allies are effectively immune from any meaningful scrutiny whatsoever. Rather, U.S. government action and intervention was continuously depicted as the solution to problems, not the origin of them. The only foreign government whose point of view was sympathetically cast was Israel. Such framing completely warps the world view presented to the U.S. public so that it is aligned with the U.S. foreign policy establishment as much as possible. This process is anathema to meaningful journalistic principles.

“The previous debate virtually completely ignored foreign policy. The word ‘Iraq’ was uttered exactly once last night.” Husseini’s pieces include “Joe Biden won’t tell the truth about his Iraq war record — and he hasn’t for years.”

The major foreign policy questions asked by the CBS moderators were:

Gayle King: “Mayor Buttigieg…why would the Russians to be working on behalf of Bernie Sanders?”

Norah O’Donnell: “You said, Senator Warren, you said you wanted to bring home all troops from the Middle East and then you walked that back to say you want to bring home combat troops. … How does that protect America’s national security?”

King: “Would you close the borders to Americans who have been exposed to the coronavirus in order to prevent an outbreak here in this country?”

Margaret Brennan: “Would you allow Chinese firms to build critical U.S. infrastructure?”

Brennan: “Can Americans trust that a democratic socialist president will not give authoritarians a free pass?”

Whitaker: “If it is proven that Russia has interfered in the 2020 elections, would you, as president, launch a retaliatory cyber attack?”

Major Garrett: “What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you’re not, from their perspective, supportive enough of Israel? And specifically, sir, would you move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv?”

O’Donnell: “Senator Klobuchar, if you were commander-in-chief, would you meet with the North Korean leader?”

Brennan: “The Syrian regime and Russia are targeting schools, bakeries, and hospitals. What would you do as president to push back regime and Russian forces and stop the killing of innocent civilians?”

Brennan: “Senator Warren …. What would you do to stop the mass murder in Idlib, Syria?”