ABC Debate Hosts 'Shoddy, Despicable'

'Barely news,' gets even worse, says Shales
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2008 6:22 AM CDT
ABC News moderators George Stephanopoulos, right, and Charles Gibson, left, are seen before the start of the Democratic Party debate at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Wednesday April...   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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(Newser) – No winner emerged in last night's Democratic presidential debate, but for one columnist the loser was clear: ABC News. Over the course of a commercial-crammed broadcast, moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous dwelled on petty half-controversies to incite Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to get nasty, writes Tom Shales of the Washington Post.

For almost an hour the pair focused on disputes that "were barely news to begin with," says Shales. It hardly got better: at one point Stephanopolous dredged up an encounter Obama had with an anarchist at the age of 8. It's just another strike against network news this election season, according to the columnist. If cable these days seems more dependable, that advantage comes "merely by being competent," he adds.