NewsBusters

Late-Night MSNBC Blasts Dems Not Attacking Bernie; ‘Great Night for Donald Trump’

After a 11:00 p.m. Eastern hour Wednesday in which MSNBC couldn’t decide whether to feel pleased or upset with the feisty Democratic presidential debate, Thursday’s midnight Eastern hour took a turn toward concern that millionaire socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) emerged unscathed on what “was a great night for Donald Trump.”

As NewsBusters has documented, this has become not just a pattern but a narrative as some MSNBCers have warned not only about the dangers of far-left socialism, but how a Sanders candidacy would shred the Democratic Party and result in an electoral landslide for Trump.

 

 

One reoccurring character has been Real Clear Politics editor A.B. Stoddard. As fate would have it, she led the charge, first telling Lyin’ Brian Williams:

Well, I thought it was a great night for Bernie Sanders. I thought it was a great night for Donald Trump. I thought it was a terrible night for the Democrats….Tonight was the night to knock down Bernie and the Democrats didn’t do it. Buttigieg tried a few minutes but not effectively enough.

Williams followed by having this amusing exchange with The Root’s Jason Johnson:

WILLIAMS: Jason, it’s going to be argued capitalism didn’t have a great outing tonight. 

JOHNSON: You know, it’s amazing America’s biggest socialist is a millionaire. 

Quips aside, Johnson opined that Sanders showed “some of his weaknesses in communicating his message which we’ve seen before,” such as “[h]is inability to do anything other than gaslight America about some of the behavior of his own supporters when it comes to unions and organizations that don’t fall in line with what he wants.”

After former Obama official David Plouffe concurred that “nobody laid a glove on Sanders,” even AM Joy host Joy Reid detailed her concerns about Sanders (click “expand”):

I actually think this was the worst debate that Bernie Sanders has had in the sense that he’s never really taken incoming…The supporters is a real issue. I’m surprised that nobody brought up the fact that some of the issues are on his staff. They’re not just — they’re people that are — we just saw his national press secretary go out on television and say that it’s birtherism to ask about his health records, like, this is not just sort of an anonymous supporters from, you know, Vladivostok that are doing it. It’s a thing[.]

(….)

My daughter who’s 24 who was a Bernie Sanders supporter who is now a Warren supporter texted me, what Elizabeth Warren needs to break away from Bernie Sanders is a meme. She needed a meme. Well, she got a meme tonight. People were distributing ether, which is for people who like hip hop, she laid out Michael Bloomberg and that will be a meme, and for people who haven’t been paying that much attention to her, they’re going to pay attention to her after tonight. 

Williams later returned to Stoddard by correctly noting that “[t]he rap on the Democrats often is they’re trying to punish success.”

 

 

Combined with one of set of comments just under 15 minuets later, Stoddard unloaded on the Democrats as obfuscating their obligation to beat a President who’s “trampling the rule of law” (click “expand”):

It’s a very pure, far left-wing of the Democratic Party argument to sit on this campaign finance argument that Elizabeth and Bernie are so obsessed with. I think Democrats just want to win and that’s why it was a strong moment for Bloomberg in an otherwise sad debate, but I think that the Democrats — what David is articulating is this is kind of too late. Nevada is really important in terms of tonight’s attack on Bernie. Tonight was the night to do it. Next week could be too late. He — they did not go after him. The moderators questioned him on his medical records and his transparency. The other candidates didn’t. They did not bring up the fact that he has a spokesman out smearing Bloomberg making up fake heart attacks and comparing it to birtherism. They did not say this is an existential election in which we’re letting a socialist lead our party while Trump is trampling the rule of law. There’s plenty of recent examples from today, last several hours and the previous two weeks since he was acquitted. No one had their pants on fire. No one declared this an emergency. I think Nevada is really critical, and if Bernie is allowed to win it, I think they’re going to find they’re in more trouble than they thought they were in.

(….)

Again, I think that the best moment that Michael Bloomberg had was his first moment when he basically said I made a lot of money and I’m giving a lot of money to the Democratic Party and I intend to spend it to beat Donald Trump….[B]ack to the fear-driven voter, they want to get rid of Donald Trump, and again, the last two weeks have been among the most horrifying in the entire Trump presidency….I just don’t think the candidates spent enough time on it. I don’t think they articulated why these last ten days have been a dramatic illustration of the threat of a second Trump term….I just think that’s something they need to keep in mind for the next debate which is just days away.

Closing out the evening, Stoddard knocked Republicans for having “no health care argument,” but noted they would if their opponent was “a Medicare for All nominee…and can be characterized as leading us into Venezuela, breaking the economy and taking — and ruining our health care system.”

Plouffe closed out the night, agreeing with Stoddard that Sanders’s opponents haven’t made clear they want to defeat him with a “moment” that paints the socialist as “a liability.”

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s post-debate coverage on February 20, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Post-Debate Analysis: Decision 2020
February 20, 2020
12:03 a.m. Eastern

AB STODDARD: Well, I thought it was a great night for Bernie Sanders. I thought it was a great night for Donald Trump. I thought it was a terrible night for the Democrats and I don’t think Bloomberg’s bad night is going to matter given the amount of money he’s spending on the ground, given the fact that a lot of voters who are going to matter later are not really watching debates. They have this presence of Facebook, and on the ground, anecdotally, I cannot believe what I’m hearing about the money he’s spending in all the right places with food and other things, meetings, not just those digital ads on social media, so I think he will still be in very strong stead throughout the very consequential month of March. Tonight was the night to knock down Bernie and the Democrats didn’t do it. Buttigieg tried a few minutes but not effectively enough. 

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Jason, it’s going to be argued capitalism didn’t have a great outing tonight. 

JASON JOHNSON: You know, it’s amazing America’s biggest socialist is a millionaire. This is the thing. I don’t think — you can’t take out Bernie Sanders. You’re not supposed to. He’s running for president. He’s running for the nomination. There’s a lot of people who like him. He has every right to sort of be there and I think it’s unrealistic and silly if Democrats operate in the space of we have to take him out. That’s not going to be supportive and that’s not a democratic process, but what was shown tonight is some of his weaknesses in communicating his message which we’ve seen before. His inability to do anything other than gaslight America about some of the behavior of his own supporters when it comes to unions and organizations that don’t fall in line with what he wants. And I think as far as Mike Bloomberg goes, look, it’s not just that he did poorly tonight because I think he did poorly. He’s spending a ton of money. He’s got 26 offices that he just opened in Texas. He’s probably going to win in North Carolina. He’s probably going to win in some of these southern states, but he had a chance tonight to add personal charisma and enthusiasm above and beyond just spending money and that he did not do. There was nothing charming or enthusiastic about Mike Bloomberg tonight and I don’t think he gained any support that’s he’s not going to have to keep paying for. 

WILLIAMS: David Plouffe, same question. 

DAVID PLOUFFE: Well, this isn’t any more about, like, figure skating judges or, you know, diving rates. This is how it connects to actually votes that you need to get now. And so the truth is Bernie Sanders is on a trajectory to be the Democratic nominee. So the question Chuck Todd asked, he was the only one that says the pledged delegate winner, now, he’s probably going to be that person or it looks like now. Everybody else said no. I heard you earlier like the — the notion that the Democratic Party is going to have party insiders overturn the will of the voters, I just don’t think it’s going to happen, so the clock is ticking and so I think the question is the California poll that Steve showed, we’ve still got two weeks, but over a million people have already voted in California. Most of the people who are going to participate in Nevada have already voted. And so the question is who can get into the mid 20s to high 20s or can two people? Cause if not, Sanders is going to exit March — almost 70 percent of the delegates are going to be done by the end of March — with a big lead. I think — I agree with AB. Nobody laid a glove on Sanders really. He’s — one of the reasons he’s a good debater is he never changes. It’s maybe boring but he’s consistent, right?

(….)

12:07 a.m. Eastern

JOY REID: Well, you know, I actually think this was the worst debate that Bernie Sanders has had in the sense that he’s never really taken incoming. I think that the other candidates have been afraid to attack him before both because it then stirs his supporters against you, and I think a lot of people want to hold his supporters in abeyance in case they need them at the convention, right? They want to bring the supporters back in, so people have really, not really gone after him in the previous debates. This time he faced the first real challenges on things that, you know, in the journalism world we talk about a lot. The supporters is a real issue. I’m surprised that nobody brought up the fact that some of the issues are on his staff. They’re not just — they’re people that are — we just saw his national press secretary go out on television and say that it’s birtherism to ask about his health records, like, this is not just sort of an anonymous supporters from, you know, Vladivostok that are doing it. It’s a thing, right? I think that he had the first time he was really challenged as to will the message that he has resonate on a stage with Donald Trump, the person who I think presented the strongest alternative to that was Elizabeth Warren. Warren went in with a very smart — a singular mission. Get Bloomberg. She finally had the kind of billionaire right out of the textbook of Elizabeth Warren’s mission in life right next to her and she went after him over and over and over again, exposed his weakness and took the theoretical Bloomberg that a lot of us have been hearing about from older black voters, black women who have been saying I could consider him and made him real. My daughter who’s 24 who was a Bernie Sanders supporter who is now a Warren supporter texted me, what Elizabeth Warren needs to break away from Bernie Sanders is a meme. She needed a meme. Well, she got a meme tonight. People were distributing ether, which is for people who like hip hop, she laid out Michael Bloomberg and that will be a meme, and for people who haven’t been paying that much attention to her, they’re going to pay attention to her after tonight. 

(….)

12:13 a.m. Eastern

WILLIAMS: A question to AB before we run to a break. The rap on the Democrats often is they’re trying to punish success. They’re trying to punish economic largesse. Bloomberg had a moment where he’s like what, what’s happening here? What’s going — of course he made as much money as he could was his implication. What slice of the Democratic electorate and viewership will that appeal to? 

STODDARD: It was very interesting, because it got a really good response from the crowd. 

WILLIAMS: In the room, it did. 

STODDARD: Yes and so they sort of affirmed him mocking this conversation. I think that train has left the station for the majority of the country. It’s a very pure, far left-wing of the Democratic Party argument to sit on this campaign finance argument that Elizabeth and Bernie are so obsessed with. I think Democrats just want to win and that’s why it was a strong moment for Bloomberg in an otherwise sad debate, but I think that the Democrats — what David is articulating is this is kind of too late. Nevada is really important in terms of tonight’s attack on Bernie. Tonight was the night to do it. Next week could be too late. He — they did not go after him. The moderators questioned him on his medical records and his transparency. The other candidates didn’t. They did not bring up the fact that he has a spokesman out smearing Bloomberg making up fake heart attacks and comparing it to birtherism. They did not say this is an existential election in which we’re letting a socialist lead our party while Trump is trampling the rule of law. There’s plenty of recent examples from today, last several hours and the previous two weeks since he was acquitted. No one had their pants on fire. No one declared this an emergency. I think Nevada is really critical, and if Bernie is allowed to win it, I think they’re going to find they’re in more trouble than they thought they were in.

(….)

12:32 a.m. Eastern

STODDARD: Again, I think that the best moment that Michael Bloomberg had was his first moment when he basically said I made a lot of money and I’m giving a lot of money to the Democratic Party and I intend to spend it to beat Donald Trump and I think that’s the best gift I can my children and people in the crowd got really excited because, back to the fear-driven voter, they want to get rid of Donald Trump, and again, the last two weeks have been among the most horrifying in the entire Trump presidency. There was more than enough for the candidates to work for and the centering, unifying thing that Klobuchar finished with in the closing remark is the drive to replace Donald Trump. I just don’t think the candidates spent enough time on it. I don’t think they articulated why these last ten days have been a dramatic illustration of the threat of a second Trump term. If he’s doing this now and he’s facing reelection, so I just think that’s something they need to keep in mind for the next debate which is just days away. 

WILLIAMS: David Plouffe, the problem with these debates is you have these media questioners. You know, you can’t just say what you want to say. So much has been made of this process being about purity testing. Isn’t that on us? We get to drive these conversations in the questions. We have honed down as teams of moderators, so you’re going to get what you’re going to get. 

PLOUFFE: Yeah, no, it’s bounded, but you know, you need to say what you want to say, so any good candidate and team preparing for a debate like this knows the two or three things they want to say regardless of where the question comes in, so you’re bounded a little bit. 

(….)

12:54 a.m. Eastern

STODDARD: Health care is the most unifying issue in the Democratic Party. Well, it was until Bernie Sanders prominence as a potential soon-to-be nominee, delegate leader because of the argument of Medicare for All. Donald Trump has no health care argument. It’s the biggest liability for the Republicans and Donald Trump. Their health care plan is a Medicare for All nominee. If the Democrats nominate someone who has this ridiculous plan, and — and — and can be characterized as leading us into Venezuela, breaking the economy and taking — and ruining our health care system, then Donald Trump has a health care plan. So none of the — these are all gimme points that I just expected people to be making tonight in this very important moment because I believe that Nevada counts despite the early voting and I just don’t think that this electability issue is being made enough effectively by them.

WILLIAMS: I can only offer you gentlemen thirty-seconds in summation? 

PLOUFFE: Well, what’s interesting I think — I think Bernie Sanders’s supporters think he is the most electable and he’s a lot of them. 

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

PLOUFFE: But I do think if this race narrows in March, and that’s really what I think is the battlefield and it gets down to maybe two candidates, I think the electability issue will get more pronounced. It has to. Listen, I’m not ready to say Bernie Sanders can’t win. I think Donald Trump could lose to any of these people. There’s no doubt that — Medicare for All in particular ups the degree of difficulty. I was surprised that people like Mayor Pete went at it. Biden went at it. But I think people haven’t been as crisp as they need to. If they believe that Bernie Sanders is a liability because of that, they really have to have one of those moments, maybe not quite the Elizabeth Warren-Bloomberg moment, but the moment that turns into a meme that’s shared. We haven’t had that yet. People kind of hinting around at it and debates are all about precision. You have to land your lines perfectly with the right cadence and understand, like, what kind of video clip are we trying to create here? And I don’t think they’ve done that yet on the electability and I agree with you. 

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