Post-Debate CBS Barely Mentions Sleazy Hunter, Tries to Haul Joe Past Finish Line

On Thursday night after the final 2020 presidential debate, CBS News put its thumb on the scale for the Biden campaign in helping to drag him across the finish line, surmising President Trump wasn’t able to jettison himself back into the race due to grim attacks on Hunter Biden, an insensitivity to race issues, and spewing a torrent of lies.

And, despite having spent more time on the Hunter Biden scandals than ABC or NBC, CBS barely covered these seemingly constant revelations about his business dealings in China and Ukraine. In their 24 minutes of post-debate airtime, only 41 seconds concerned allegations of Biden family corruption. (Video forthcoming)

Initially, CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell and CBS This Morning co-host/Obama family friend Gayle King were tepid with the former calling the debate “substantive and a clash of ideas” with both Trump and Joe Biden possibly “notic[ing] where their standing was in the polls and knew what they needed to do tonight.”

And as for the latter, King asserted both candidates “can walk out tonight and say ‘I did very well.’”

O’Donnell then changed gears, observing that President Trump would “not answer” the first question about changing the direction of the coronavirus pandemic and instead “said essentially it’s not his fault and that we’re rounding the corner.”

Later in the broadcast, chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett would “fact-check” Trump on that and deemed it as false (and refused to take into account factors like the FDA approval of Remdesivir or improvement in the likelihood contracting coronavirus wouldn’t result in death).

60 Minutes correspondent John Dickerson agreed with the premise that Thursday night “was an actual debate,” but it didn’t move the needle because President Trump failed to be “more than just adequate” and “do something to change the dynamic of the race” despite “interesting exchanges” on a litany of issues.

On COVID, Dickerson added:

The rebuttal to anything the President says about COVID comes in the next report on the cases in America and the places now struggling are rural areas which have a harder time handling it in the hospitals. We’re going into a very tough period. The President needed some kind of answer to throw into that future. He was talking about the past.

About six minutes into the post-debate coverage, O’Donnell alluded to Hunter in telling White House correspondent Paula Reid that Trump “was on offense” with one example having been how he “made it personal about Biden’s family.”

Reid only went a tick further beyond O’Donnell’s esoteric statement, pointing out the Trump team’s “strategy was to bring up Biden’s son Hunter, put those accusations into the mainstream, [and] get them in front of tens of millions of voters.”

Before O’Donnell quashed the Hunter talk with longtime Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, King wondered to Dickerson: “You have to be on the offense without being offensive. But do you think the voters care about Hunter Biden?”

Once Dickerson said “no,” King interjected: “Joe Biden didn’t take the bait on that at all.”

For a news media that obsesses over the business dealings and movements of the President’s adult children not working in the White House (e.g. Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.), they sure have seemed so apprehensive to even a scintilla of scrutiny to one of Biden’s adult children.

After a break (and analysis prior to that from Valerie Jarett and Reince Priebus), Garrett came in with the fact-check and, to the shock of almost no one reading this, he knocked the President while gave Biden a green light.

Having covered his first point on COVID, Garrett commented on Trump’s claim about his 2016 campaign being spied on and a Biden assertion about immigration policy (click “expand”):

GARRETT: President Trump said they spied on my campaign, the implication being President Obama, Vice President Biden, those in the Obama-Biden white House. Both the Senate Committee on Intelligence, and the Department of Justice Inspector General report said that’s not true. That’s why we rate this false. Now, a lot of chapters and verses to this and people will say what about Carter Page? Yes, there was surveillance of Carter Page. That has been roundly criticized, even by the Inspector General. But he was not a significant player at any time in the Trump campaign. The third one deals with former Vice President Biden’s assertion that the Obama-Biden did not have a policy of separating families. We rate that as true. They were separated in rare instances to protect children or if those that their parents were identified to be criminals or threats to the children, but it was not a systemic policy as it was with the Trump administration, an outgrowth of their zero tolerance policy on the border. Norah, you saw some of those facilities the Trump administration contracted with. That’s where we rate the assertion by former Vice President Biden that there was no policy to separate families as true.

O’DONNELL: Very helpful.

Dickerson, King, and O’Donnell returned for a third and final segment to set the stage for Biden. Dickerson praised Welker’s final question about speaking to Americans who didn’t support you because “this is what governing is about in an age of high partisanship” and, in an implicit nod to Biden, “people should go back and look at the answers and see who has the capacity to speak to the part country that isn’t in my base and speak to that part.”

The Democratic donor King replied that Biden spoke to that while “Trump didn’t answer that question,” but she used her time to change gears to furthering the narrative of Trump being a racist (click “expand”):

KING: [A]ctions speak louder than words, and when you look at the President’s actions, the last debate, he — it was a clear dog whistle, many people believe, to the Proud Boys to stand back and stand by. He keeps saying that I denounce these white supremacist group, but denounce them, it says, “I do not want your support.”

O’DONNELL: But the question by — by Kristen Welker was really about what do you tell a family who’s dealing with this? And so it — it invoked an empathetic answer, and instead he said —

KING: And he didn’t really care.

O’DONNELL: — that Black Lives Matter —

KING: Yes.

O’DONNELL: — and then he went about how the chants allegedly said at the protests.

KING: And listen, as someone who’s had that conversation and I thought Kristen pointed out really well, whether your income level here is here or your income level is here, because your skin doesn’t change when you walk out of the house. I thought that she hit that really well and it would have been a great opportunity for him to address that and he did not. He spent a lot of time talking about ‘I’ve done this for HBCUs.’ You know, he and Tim Scott — he always brings up the opportunity zones and empowerment zones, which is a very good program. But when you don’t really figure out a way to unite this community — which is feeling right now under siege, under siege and in a lot of pain, he never seemed to really address that.

DICKERSON: And that’s where the listening and hearing comes in. I think, as the nation’s top birther for five years, President Trump can’t say I’m —

KING: Yeah.

DICKERSON — he has to jump over that and say something else other than pure assertion[.]

With King having made her peace, Dickerson’s final take was to — what else — laud Biden for having “narrow-casted at those voters in those Midwestern states…with those personal appeals” by “talk[ing] about the widow or widower who reaches to the empty space in the bed because of COVID, to talk about the oil slick on his windshield.”

Before signing off, O’Donnell concluded by openly parroting Biden’s closing argument: “Joe Biden said tonight the character of the country is on the ballot. He is trying to make this a referendum, not only about President Trump’s leadership during this pandemic, but also the character of this man and what happens in the next four years.”

CBS’s post-debate analysis was made possible by advertisers such as Ancestry and Volkswagen. Follow the links to the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.

To see the relevant CBS transcript from October 22, click “expand.”

CBS News: The Second Presidential Debate
October 23, 2020
10:36 p.m. Eastern


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