ABC Anchor on Rock Star Host of Gay Debate: ‘Melissa Etheridge Is the New Ted Koppel!’

On Friday’s "Good Morning America," ABC host George Stephanopoulos raved about singer Melissa Etheridge’s hosting of Thursday’s Democratic debate on gay issues. He enthused, "Melissa Etheridge is the new Ted Koppel!" Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton aide and now the host of "This Week," also framed the debate from a decidedly pro-gay rights angle:

George Stephanopoulos: "...This is remarkable that a forum like this is happening. It would never happen on the Republican side, at least not yet."

Would Stephanopoulos spin a GOP debate on defending the Second Amendment as something the Democrats wouldn’t be interested in, at least not yet? Indeed, there was no mention in the segment that the entire debate focused heavily on promoting a decidedly liberal agenda. The "L-word" was never used at all.

And despite Stephanopoulos’s elevation of Etheridge to the status of premiere journalist, most of her questions came from a solidly left-wing perspective. The singer claimed that gays felt "thrown under the bus" when the Clinton administration didn’t go far enough in supporting their issues.

As far as the musician's hosting abilities, the New York Sun’s political site, in a live blog, didn’t appear to be quite as enamored of Etheridge’s performance:

9:11: Melissa Etheridge asks the next question. Leave it to a celebrity to ask the most vapid question of the debate: How are you going to bring this country back together? (I'm speculating that there won't be a more vapid question. I think I'm on solid ground.)

On another subject, MRC senior analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted Thursday that the "Today" show featured a segment effectively burying Senator John McCain’s struggling campaign. On ABC, GMA host Diane Sawyer and Stephanopoulos continued to pile on. Sawyer used a joke by comedian Jay Leno to dismiss McCain and as a segue into discussing Iowa and the upcoming straw poll:

Diane Sawyer: "A joke from Jay Leno about McCain I want to ask you about him. Here it is."

Jay Leno: "Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney said they will not participant in the Republican debate next month in Florida. John McCain said he will be there if he can get a ride, you know."

Stephanopoulos: "Poor guy."

A transcript of Stephanopoulos’s segment, which aired on August 10 at 7:17am, follows:

Sawyer: "And George Stephanopoulos is here. He’s, of course, anchor of ‘This Week.’ What did you make of last night?"

George Stephanopoulos: "Well, Melissa Etheridge is the new Ted Koppel. I mean, she really put everyone on the spot last night and she did make Hillary Clinton uncomfortable, John Edwards uncomfortable. I don't think they did any real damage to their campaigns. Jake is right that this is remarkable that a forum like this is happening. It would never happen on the Republican side, at least not yet. And John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama all protected themselves in the general election by standing firm on their opposition to gay marriage."

Sawyer: "The fact that they were united gave them a barrier."

Stephanopoulos: "Absolutely."

Sawyer: "This weekend, Iowa, straw poll. Here it goes."

Stephanopoulos: "Eight years ago, it gave George W. Bush his start, his road to the nomination and then ultimately the presidency. The bottom line this year is that if Mitt Romney doesn't win big it's going to be the biggest surprise of this campaign so far. He's spent more money than all of his opponents so far. The other question is, these second tier candidates, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Tommy Thompson they have to do very well just to survive."

Sawyer: "A joke from Jay Leno about McCain I want to ask you about him. Here it is."

Jay Leno: "Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney said they will not participant in the Republican debate next month in Florida. John McCain said he will be there if he can get a ride, you know."

Stephanopoulos: "Poor guy."

Sawyer: "What about Iowa and John McCain?"

Stephanopoulos: "Not his state, definitely not his state. He had already said he wasn't going to compete in this straw poll. It would be remarkable if he had any kind of showing here."

Sawyer: "And you were talking to me about now voting in December, for real? In December?"

Stephanopoulos: "It is very, very possible. Think about voting this year as a game of leapfrog that Iowa and new Hampshire are determined to win. Now, we’re going to put up a calendar right now. What started this yesterday is that South Carolina has moved up their primary from early February, up to January 19. That means that New Hampshire, which was supposed to be on January 22, is likely to move up to January 8. Iowa was supposed to be on January 14. They're not going to want to do a caucus on New Year's Eve. So that means they could move all the way up to mid December. It's not done yet but very, very possible."

Sawyer: "Thanksgiving elections."

Stephanopoulos: "It could happen."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org