The much-anticipated initial presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was completely lop-sided in terms of the questions directed at the two candidates, with the moderate giving a pass to Clinton by failing to ask her tough questions, which were reserved for Trump only.
This biased moderation by Lester Holt resulted in Clinton getting away with not having to answer about a host of issues hampering her candidacy, e.g., breach of national security in the emails scandal, the Clinton Foundation and its revolving door with the state Department while Hillary was the secretary of state, and of course Libya, thus enabling her to claim victory in the debate.
In comparison, the moderator asked a number of questions from Trump that put him on the defensive and also enabled Clinton to throw timely jabs at him, such as with respect to Trump’s sexist attitude, which has resulted in the post-debate tsunami of media attention on a 20-year old story about how Trump mistreated a Venezuelan beauty contestant, who apparently gained weight while she was under contract to represent the Trump organization.
Consequently, the focus has shifted on an old story about Trump instead of the burning today’s issues of the economy, foreign policy, health care, the climate, etc. The debate has been followed by an onslaught of Trump-bashing negative ads by Clinton seizing on his mistreatment of women, which might be clever election tactic but a rather nefarious one aimed at alienating the women and Hispanic voters from the Republican ticket.
Clearly, the weight of the mainstream US media is lining up behind Clinton, whose recent physical collapse on September 11 was also downplayed by the likes of CNN, in order to dump down on Trump and thus lessen his chances of winning the November elections. This is due to a combination of factors, one which is the fact that Trump is still considered an unreliable outsider compared to the establishment candidate Clinton, with a populistic streak that can wreak havoc on the status quo if he is elected to be the next US president. The New York real estate magnate-turned presidential hopeful also enjoys from a degree of financial independence that sets him apart from the Clinton candidacy that relies heavily on Wall Street support, given Clinton’s promise of stability and continuity that is in sharp contrast with the ‘dark horse’ Trump.
In fact, the first debate, watched by some 84 million viewers was less notable about the substantive issues raised by both candidates and more about the contrasting political styles and the politics of innuendo and marginalized issues gaining prominence. Trump of course has a long list of character and political flaws, including raw hawkishness and propensity to impulsive action that can trigger unwanted wars abroad, yet he also brings to the scene a streak of anti-establishment sociability that has been unsettling to the powers that be, who may have settled on Clinton, reflected in the ridiculously one-sided moderation of the first debate that in many ways was tantamount to laying a trap for Trump and giving a timely media pass to Clinton.
This clever treachery may cost Trump a great deal, particularly if it is continued in the subsequent debates unchecked and unexposed.