Flashback to Last Brian Williams Debate: Peppered Republicans with Questions from the Left

In a confounding decision, the Republican candidates agreed to a second debate, to be held tonight in Tampa, moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams who, along with Politico’s John Harris, back on September 7 repeatedly peppered the then-larger Republican presidential field with liberal talking points and Democratic agenda items. Below, an excerpt from my September 8 post, with illustrative video:

Williams hit Texas Governor Rick Perry from the left on his state’s poor economic indicators (“no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage”) , chastised him for cutting education funding and, citing how “your state has executed 234 death row inmates,” demanded to know whether he’s “struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?” More examples and video below.

 


Audio: MP3 clip which matches the 2:30 video above.

Williams was taken aback when the audience applauded Perry’s death penalty record, prompting a befuddled Williams to follow up: “What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”

Williams was also confounded by Ron Paul’s libertarian views, quizzing him about how the nation would survive without FEMA and confusingly ruminated about no federal air traffic control: “All the pilots in the sky, to add to their responsibilities, their own air traffic control, in an organic way.” He also hailed former Democratic President Lyndon Johnson for addressing the need for government to provide meals to school kids, wondering: “Do you think that is any more -- providing nutrition in schools for children -- a role of the federal government?”

Challenging Senator Rick Santorum, Williams lectured him about how Santorum’s “Catholic faith, has as a part of it, caring for the poor.” Williams insisted Santorum explain: “Where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration?”

Williams’ liberal advocacy and hostility to conservatives shouldn’t have come as any surprise given his history as documented in the MRC’s Media Reality Check, by Geoffrey Dickens, released on Tuesday, “Brian Williams Vs. Tea Party Conservatives: GOP Debate Moderator Has Long History of Admiring Obama and Badgering Republicans from the Left.

Harris, Editor-in-Chief of Politico, contrasted the success in liberal Massachusetts with failure in conservative Texas: “Massachusetts has nearly universal health insurance – it’s first in the country. In Texas, about a quarter of the people don't have health insurance. That's 50 out of 50, dead last. Sir, it's pretty hard to defend dead last.”

With Ron Paul, Harris noted General Electric’s huge profits, but “paid no taxes. Perfectly legal, but does it strike you as fair?”

For a Media Reality Check, the MRC’s Geoffrey Dickens determined: "A review of the 54 total questions asked by Williams and Harris to the Republican candidates shows that 25 of them came from the left, with just one from the right. Twenty-eight questions were neutral. So of those questions with an agenda almost all of them (96 percent) were from the left (4 percent from the right). "

My original September 8, 2011 post has the full rundown of questions.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center