On Thursday, while covering the latest Democratic debate, NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America avoided any mention of Hillary Clinton being grilled by Univision anchor Jorge Ramos about accusations that she lied to the families of the Benghazi victims. Instead, both morning shows focused on the “biggest debate” of the night being over the color of Bernie Sanders’ suit.
Following coverage of the debate itself, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie declared: “But you know, there was another debate raging online, and it was important too. What color was Senator Sanders’ suit, you asked. Some said that is a brown suit, others see a black suit....it is the 2016 version of the dress controversy.”
After the hosts all debated what color the suit was, Guthrie broke the suspense and informed them: “Well, the rapid response team for the Sanders campaign says it was neither brown nor black. It was blue.”
GMA began with co-host Lara Spencer hyping Sanders’ controversial fashion choice: “The internet is in quite an uproar this morning over the color of Bernie Sanders' suit. Everybody wondering black, brown, or perhaps navy, even some wondering if it was eggplant.”
Wrapping up a report on the debate minutes later, correspondent Cecilia Vega dismissed all substantive coverage by proclaiming:
But the biggest debate of the night, once again, what color was Bernie Sanders' suit? Take a look one more time at that picture. This went viral online. One person tweeting, “No bolder more revolutionary act has ever been committed on the political stage.” George, I saw brown. I declare it so. This is dress-gate 2016 all over again. It was brown.
Co-host George Stephanopoulos replied: “I think that's what I saw too, but we've all been victims of our lighting.”
Unlike NBC and ABC, CBS This Morning decided to stick with actual political news instead of superficial banter about the color of the candidate’s clothes. In fact, the broadcast stood out for highlighting Clinton being held accountable for her dishonest statements about the 2012 Benghazi attack:
GAYLE KING: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated last night in Miami. The moderators challenged Clinton on her trust worthiness and her response to the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya....
KAREN TUMULTY: The Washington Post poll just yesterday found that only 37% of Americans consider you honest and trustworthy. Is there anything in your own actions and the decisions that you, yourself, had made that would foster this kind of mistrust?
HILLARY CLINTON: When you're in public life, even if you believe that it's not an opinion that you think is fair or founded, you do have to take responsibility and I do. I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama, so I have a view that I just have to do the best I can, get the results I can, make a difference in people's lives, and hope that people see that I'm fighting for them and that I can improve conditions.
JORGE RAMOS: On the night of the attacks in Benghazi, [audience boos] you sent an e-mail to your daughter Chelsea saying that Al-Queda was responsible for the killing of the Americans. However, some of the families claim you lied to them. Here’s Pat Smith, the mother of information officer Sean Smith.
PATRICIA SMITH [FOX NEWS]: Hillary and Obama and Panetta and Biden and all – and Susan Rice, all told me it was a video when they knew – they knew it was not the video.
CLINTON: You know, look, I feel a great deal of sympathy for the families of the four brave Americans that we lost at Benghazi. And I certainly can’t even imagine the grief that she has for losing her son. But she’s wrong, she’s absolutely wrong.
To their credit, all three network morning shows noted Ramos asking Clinton a pointed question about her e-mail scandal : “If you get indicted, would you drop out?”
At the top of Today, Guthrie announced: “Right to the point. Hillary Clinton faces a tough question about her e-mail controversy during last night's heated presidential debate.” Minutes later, correspondent Kristen Welker added: “Secretary Clinton faced one of the sharpest exchanges yet about the FBI investigation into her private e-mail server.”
A soundbite played of Clinton rejecting the question: “Oh, for goodness – that is not going to happen. I'm not even answering that question.” Cheers and applause from the audience could be heard in the clip.
On GMA, Vega helped spin for the Democratic frontrunner: “Both sides forced to defend their own records. Clinton exasperated about those e-mails....And turning a question about those nagging negative polls on honesty and trust into a moment of reflection.”
On This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes simply described: “The FBI investigation into Clinton's private e-mails came up too.”
Here are excerpts of the great March 10 suit debate on Today and GMA:
7:48 AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Just ahead this morning, the debate that has been sparked by last night's Democratic debate. What color was Bernie Sanders’ suit? Yes, that is the debate, right after this.
8:15 AM ET SEGMENT:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Earlier we showed you, of course, the debate Wednesday night between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But you know, there was another debate raging online, and it was important too. What color was Senator Sanders’ suit, you asked. Some said that is a brown suit, others see a black suit.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Coat of Many Colors; Social Media Debates Color of Sanders’ Suit]
AL ROKER: Oh, is this like that dress thing?
GUTHRIE: Yes, it is the 2016 version of the dress controversy. Yes, and so the internet was there with the photoshopped the dress of last year. The Senator's rapid response team offered a definitive answer. So wait a minute, so what do we see?
CARSON DALY: I see brown.
TAMRON HALL: I see brown.
ROKER: I saw brown.
HALL: Yeah, brown.
GUTHRIE: Clearly brown, okay? Well, the rapid response team for the Sanders campaign says it was neither brown nor black.
HALL What is it?
GUTHRIE: It was blue.
GUTHRIE: I know.
DALY That was from an official source?
LAUER: Bad lighting.
GUTHRIE: It was blue.
HALL: That’s blue? But the background is blue, our chyron is blue.
LAUER: You know what? In that other shot – it depends on the monitor. Over there it looks blue and here is looks brown.
DALY: I read a funny tweet from Trayvon Free, who’s a writer for The Daily Show, and he said, “I don't care what color suit Bernie’s wearing as long as it’s not birthday.”
GUTHRIE: Took me a minute.
HALL: Took us a minute but we got there.
Good Morning America
7:01 AM ET
AMY ROBACH: Also, we have a lot of big news to get to this morning, including that huge night in politics. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton facing off in another debate and it was a fiery one.
LARA SPENCER: Oh, yeah, and not just what they said was on everybody's mind last night. Take a look at this. The internet is in quite an uproar this morning over the color of Bernie Sanders' suit. Everybody wondering black, brown, or perhaps navy, even some wondering if it was eggplant.
MICHAEL STRAHAN: But his camp –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Eggplant?
SPENCER: Yes, a shade of purple.
STRAHAN: But his camp spoke out, they said blue. Then they changed their mind and they said black.
SPENCER: This is all reminiscent of the dress.
ROBACH: It looks brown to me.
SPENCER: Remember, we had the big debate?
STEPHANOPOULOS: The dress, yeah. It looks like brown to me.
ROBACH: It looks brown to me as well.
SPENCER: Blue to me.
STRAHAN: It looks like a suit to me.
7:08 AM ET
VEGA: But the biggest debate of the night, once again, what color was Bernie Sanders' suit? Take a look one more time at that picture. This went viral online. One person tweeting, “No bolder more revolutionary act has ever been committed on the political stage.” George, I saw brown. I declare it so. This is dress-gate 2016 all over again. It was brown.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's what I saw too, but we've all been victims of our lighting. Okay, Cecilia, thanks very much.