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Publisher / Editor:
Paul Hayden

The Commission on Presidential Debates, Is It Really ‘Non Partisan’?

September 19, 2016

The debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are being organized organized by The Commission on Presidential Debates. The 2016 debates are already scheduled and the ‘moderators’ have been chosen. The commission is labeled as ‘non partisan’ but is it really? The mere fact that that three of the debates are ‘moderated’ by people from the three major news networks itself should be a clue as to the false ‘non partisan’ nature of the debates since all three networks are hardly unbiased, especially where Donald Trump is concerned. Even the debate moderated by a Fox News commentator is suspect considering how anti-Trump that cable news network has been since Trump became a serious contender.

However, claims of non partisanship of the Commission also ignore the make-up of the Commission leadership. It’s true that there is a division of Republicans and Democrats, or their supporters, on the Commission but the reality is that there really is not a conservative among them and virtually all represent the ‘establishment’ of the respective political parties. Although this is not a problem for Hillary Clinton, a Democrat establishment figure herself, but a full cadre of Republican establishment commission members on the commission is not only a slap in the face of the anti-establishment Donald Trump, but a precursor of what can be expected in this and future presidential debates.

Here is the current leadership of the Commission:

Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
Michael D. McCurry 

Committee Honorary Co-Chairmen:
Gerald R. Ford* 
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan*

Co-Chairman Emeritus:
Paul G. Kirk, Jr.

Executive Director:
Janet H. Brown

Commission Co-Chairman Emeritus Paul G. Kirk, Jr. is a Democrat senator and was Chairman of the Democratic Party. Executive Director of the Commission, Janet Brown, is a former Jeb Bush appointee. Jeb Bush is no friend of Trump and has been vocal in condemnation of Trump. Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.is a former Republican National Committee Chairman and John C. Danforth was what can be charitably described as a ‘moderate’ Republican senator. Antonia Hernandez was president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. What do you suppose Ms. Hernandez thinks about Donald Trump? Olympia Snowe is a senator elected as a Republican but who often votes and shares political positions of Democrats.

Other non-Democrat politicians on the Commission are Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. and Richard D. Parsons. Daniels has been a middle-of the-road Republican and Parsons was a supporter of Mayor Giuliani who has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, he may be the only Commission member who can be politically distinguished from the other members.

The remaining members of the Commission are political Democrats, from Academia or a present or former network employee. Michael D. McCurry is former press secretary for Bill Clinton's administration, Paul G. Kirk, Jr. was a special assistant to Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy, Jane Harman was a Democrat congresswoman and Newton N. Minow has been active in Democratic party politics for a long time. Charles Gibson is from ABC news, a network famous for biased reporting, Reverend John I. Jenkins is president of the University of Notre Dame  and Shirley M. Tilghman is president of  Princeton University. Howard G. Buffett is the son of Warren Buffett who is a long-time Democrat supporter and currently a Hillary Clinton supporter.

If there is any doubt the Commission is biased against Trump, and will be against any non-establishment candidate, consider the choice of dates for the debate and the ‘moderators’ selected. It is obvious that Hillary Clinton has a lot to answer for so the Commission does not want the maximum number of people watching. What better way to do that than to schedule the debates on the nights there are other popular events on television, like professional football games. The debates were scheduled in July so the dates of the NFL games were well known and two of the debates are scheduled at the same time. Incidentally, the DNC did the same thing during the primary season to obviously help Hillary Clinton. It would be easy to avoid a conflict like this by scheduling the presidential debates on nights when there are no scheduled NFL games but the Commission chose not to do so, thus limiting exposure for Donald Trump and the scandal-challenged Hillary Clinton.

However the selection of ‘moderators’ for the debates most clearly reveals the bias of the establishment Commission members this year and the overall effort to diminish support for the Republican candidates. Generally the past moderators have expressed preference for the Democrat, who can forget moderator Candy Crowley supporting Obama and not allowing Romney to make a final statement the last series of presidential debates.

Arrayed against the Republican this year in the debates are liberal ‘moderators’ from NBC, CBS, NBC and CNN: Lester Holt of NBC, Elaine Quijano of CBS and Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN. Only missing from the biased list is Chris Wallace of FOX News who will moderate one of the presidential debates.

Liberal Lester Holt speaks glowingly about Obama, Obama was a guest of Raddatz at her 1991 wedding and her husband is an FCC Obama appointee (and was a pro Joe Biden moderator in the Vice President 2012 debate against Paul Ryan) and Elaine Quintero has been a strong illegal alien and global warming supporter on CBS broadcasts, all positions contrary to those of outspoken Donald Trump. Anderson Cooper is also a liberal who advocates for homosexual rights and weddings.

Will Donald Trump be treated impartially in the debates moderated by Commission designated liberals, not likely. Can Donald Trump overcome the partiality, we will see?

The presidential debates are important and they have to be organized but it would be refreshing to have real non-partisanship instead of the same sort of establishment blurring of party lines that has characterized our institutions for so long. In any case, the intelligence of the American people should not be insulted by labeling the debates Commission as ‘non-partisan’.

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