ABC Slams Christine's O'Donnell's 'Cringe-Inducing' Debate Performance, Hits Her for 'Stumbling'

On Thursday's Good Morning America, reporter Claire Shipman knocked Christine O'Donnell for a "cringe-inducing" answer during a debate, Wednesday, but downplayed and ignored awkward moments from the candidate's Democratic opponent. Shipman derided, "But, while she was quick to accuse her opponent of politics as usual, she stumbled on a question that many consider to be Politics 101."

Co-host George Stephanopoulos teased, "And in last night's debate, what seemed to stump Tea Party star Christine O'Donnell?" Asked by Nancy Karibjanian, one of the moderators, what Supreme Court decision she most disagreed with, the Delaware Republican didn't have an answer.

An ABC graphic dismissed it as a the "Tea Party star's Palin moment." After playing the clip Shipman chided, "Ouch. It was cringe-inducing, George." [MP3 here. Click on read more to see video.]

She added, "It certainly felt sort of like a gotcha question. But, as you know, it's the sort of gotcha question that most candidates know to be ready for."

Yet, there was no video of County Executive Chris Coons stumbling over a question about raising property taxes three times in one fiscal year. The Democrat, fumbled, "Research into that would reveal that, it's difficult, it's complicated, but I'll take- I'll take a-" He then avoided moderator Wolf Blitzer's follow-up on the subject. GMA viewers saw none of this.

Before playing a clip of Blitzer asking O'Donnell about an her criticism of evolution, Shipman labeled this one of the politician's "more controversial statements." Yet, when O'Donnell pressed Coons about being a Marxist, this was just an example of the Republican digging "into her opponent's past."

Shipman offered no context when she played a clip of O'Donnell attacking, "My opponent has recently said that it was studying under a Marxist professor that made him become a Democrat." Perhaps this comment simply isn't as shocking to journalists as O'Donnell's.

A transcript of the October 14 segment, which aired at 7:15, follows:

7am tease

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And in last night's debate, what seemed to stump Tea Party star Christine O'Donnell?

7:15

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just 19 days to go until the November election. And we are right in the thick of the final debates. Senate leader Harry Reid takes on Tea Party star, Sharron Angle tonight in Nevada. They're running neck and neck. And last night in Delaware, the first primetime outing for another Tea Party favorite who is having a tougher time in her race. Christine O'Donnell faced questions from the press and her opponent, Chris Coons. And Claire Shipman was there. Claire?

ABC GRAPHIC: Candidate Showdown: Tea Party Star's Palin Moment

CLARE SHIPMAN: George, it was a critical moment for Christine O'Donnell. She's trailing by almost 20 points in the polls. But, while she was quick to accuse her opponent of politics as usual, she stumbled on a question that many consider to be Politics 101. A moment of nerves at the start. [O'Donnell clears her throat.] And then, nonstop swinging for an hour and a half.

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: Well, first of all, we have to keep in mind that my opponent has a history of promising not to raise taxes on the campaign trail and then breaking those promises as soon as he takes office.

CHRIS COONS: Ms. O'Donnell has experience at running for office, but not at really running anything.

SHIPMAN: She portrayed him as a political insider

O'DONNELL: You know, special favors are something that my opponent knows very much about.

SHIPMAN: He painted her as incomprehensible.

O'DONNELL: There's so much there, Wolf. I don't know.

SHIPMAN: O'Donnell was pressed on some of her more controversial statements.

O'DONNELL [On Politically Incorrect]: Evolution is a myth.

WOLF BLITZER: Do you believe evolution is a myth?

O'DONNELL: Local- Local schools should make that decision. And I made that remark based on-

BLITZER: But, what do you believe?

O'DONNELL: What I believe is irrelevant.

BLITZER: In turn, she dug into her opponent's past.

O'DONNELL: My opponent has recently said that it was studying under a Marxist professor that made him become a Democrat.

COONS: If you take five minutes and read the article, it's clear on the face of it, it was a joke.

SHIPMAN: And there was one Sarah Palin-esque moment. Although, it didn't seem to rattle O'Donnell.

NANCY KARIBJANIAN (debate moderator): What opinions of late, that have come from our high court, do you most object to?

O'DONNELL: Oh, gosh. Give me a specific one. I'm sorry.

KARIBJANIAN: Actually, I can't. Because, I need you to tell me which ones you object to.

O'DONNELL: I'm very sorry. Right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot. But I put it up on my website. I promise you.

SHIPMAN: Ouch. It was cringe-inducing, George. It certainly felt sort of like a gotcha question. But, as you know, it's the sort of gotcha question that most candidates know to be ready for.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's in everyone's play book. And, remember, of course, Sarah Palin got that question during the campaign season last time around. Okay, Claire Shipman, thanks very much.

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