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ABC Hails ‘Spicy’ Harris Battling ‘Evasive,’ ‘Mansplaining,’ Possibly-Infected Pence

ABC Hails ‘Spicy’ Harris Battling ‘Evasive,’ ‘Mansplaining,’ Possibly-Infected Pence

Just as NBC rallied to the defense of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), ABC was similarly energized Wednesday following her debate with Vice President Mike Pence, gushing over the “spicy” “prosecutor” assuming the role of “fact-check[er]” against the “evasive” and “mansplainer” Pence who, based upon speculation over a pinkish eye, might have coronavirus.

Chief anchor and former Clinton flack George Stephanopoulos initially remarked how both candidates “didn’t answer” some of moderator Susan Page’s “questions at all” and World News Tonight anchor David Muir focused on the coronavirus portion, but it was national correspondent Linsey Davis who shifted the coverage to a Harris pep rally.

Davis opined how Harris’s persona “was part prosecutor, part fact-check, part presidential interview” even though “she allowed Vice President Pence to be rather evasive and not necessarily answer the questions as he was asked.”

She concluded with this valentine for Harris: “One thing I thought was interesting, in 2016, there was an analyst who said that the VP debate at that time, the match-up was like miracle whip versus mayonnaise. I think that that was not what we got at all tonight, I think that Kamala Harris was rather spicy and fortunately, this was more about policy than it was personality.”

Stephanopoulos switched gears to playing amateur doctor, bringing in medical contributor Dr. Jen Ashton because “a lot of people noticing that Mike Pence appeared to have some kind of pink eye.”

Ashton admitted that “no one can make anyone diagnosis over TV,” but largely proceeded to do the opposite: “But what do we know about ocular or eye manifestations in COVID, it has been reported, though it’s limited in the medical literature, that 11 percent to 30 percent of COVID positive patients can have pink eye, it can be an early sign, but George, he could have just had some makeup in his eye.” 

After some eager Harris spin from senior congressional candidate Mary Bruce, former Obama official Rahm Emanuel helped Stephanopoulos trot out his “mansplaining” narrative. Thankfully, former George W. Bush official Sara Fagen pushed back on that (click “expand”):

EMANUEL: When you’re the vice president, you’re attacking your opponent, who happens to be a woman, you can do that, but the journalist who is asking the question, I don’t think that helped them with the women vote in general….You have a reporter and a woman candidate and both of them you are interrupted, both of them you are attacking, not a good sign. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sara Fagen, let me bring that to you because obviously Mike Pence, who’s a former television commentator, does have a very calm demeanor, but I think a lot of people were noticing some mansplaining going on tonight. 

FAGEN: I don’t know. I didn’t see that way, George. It didn’t come across to me. I do think he should have stopped talking a little quicker, but I don’t think he was disrespectful of either woman. I thought he did a really strong job tonight and what Matt Dowd said in the preprogram before the debate I thought made a lot of sense, which is his job was to stop the bleeding and I think he accomplished that tonight. He was very strong on the economy. He really had Kamala Harris on the defense, specifically on the Green New Deal and the impact that would have on jobs and taxes.

Skipping ahead (and past partisan adulations from Matthews Dowd and Yvette Simpson), chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl replied how he found it “maddening at times to see both of them avoid answering basic questions and not really seeing enough of a follow-up, but especially Mike Pence” because “he has an amazing ability not to answer a direct question.”

Chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz also pushed back on this “mansplaining” and did do forcefully whereas senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega boasted of Harris’s facial expressions (click “expand”):

RADDATZ: [A]nd can I just say one more tiny thing, George, when I hear people say, talk about mansplaining and talk about Kamala Harris, a man shouldn’t interrupt her, it’s going to look bad, Kamala Harris is a vice presidential candidate. She should be able to stand up for herself. Yes, it’s history-making. Yes, you can talk about her history who she is, and she’s a woman of color there, but a man can interrupt another vice presidential candidate. It is up to that candidate to talk back, to interrupt themselves, or to hold onto that debate in any way they could. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Cecilia Vega, take on that point. 

VEGA: Well, and I think we saw Kamala Harris do that. And I think, actually, one of the headlines coming out of this debate, George, is going to be the remarkable split screen that we saw and the facial expressions that Kamala Harris had as Vice President Mike Pence was talking. I mean, that really — that really is going to be a big takeaway.

Stephanopoulos and co. were singing a very different tune back in 2016 after the VP debate between Pence and Tim Kaine. In particular, Stephanopoulos boasted of Kaine’s interruptions as having shown a willingness “to sacrifice himself to do the job for the ticket.”

ABC playing doctor and hailing “spicy” Harris against a “mansplaining’ Pence was made possible by supportive advertisers such as Nature’s Bounty, SoFi, and Volkswagen. Follow the links to the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.

ABC’s The Vice Presidential Debate — Your Voice Your Vote 2020: An ABC News Special
October 7, 2020
10:33 p.m. Eastern

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the end of the vice presidential debate right there. What a difference a week makes. Two very different personalities on the stage tonight. They showed their personalities throughout the debate. Both by what they said and didn’t say, how they reacted when their opponent was talking. Both candidates likely more effective in attacking their opponents than defending the records of their principles. Some informed questions from the moderator, Susan Page, but her — the candidates often ignored her when they were answering the question, didn’t answer those questions at all. Kamala Harris scoring on the coronavirus, health care, and Russia. Mike Pence, trying to steer things back to the economy and taxes[.]

(….)

10:35 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Linsey Davis, you said at the start, which Kamala Harris would we get, the prosecutor or not? Did we get that? 

LINSEY DAVIS: Not as much as I thought. I mean, I think it was part prosecutor, part fact-check, part presidential interview. At the same time, she allowed Vice President Pence to be rather evasive and not necessarily answer the questions as he was asked. At one point, he was asked about health care, he answered about the Supreme Court. He was asked about China, he answered about NAFTA. And yet, it was Pence who actually really held her feet to the fire at one point, he said, I just want the record to reflect she never answered the question. He was referring to the Supreme Court. One thing I thought was interesting, in 2016, there was an analyst who said that the VP debate at that time, the match-up was like miracle whip versus mayonnaise. I think that that was not what we got at all tonight, I think that Kamala Harris was rather spicy and fortunately, this was more about policy than it was personality. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question. They covered a lot more policy ground. Again, did not necessarily get all those questions answered over the course of the 90 minutes, but many more topics were addressed. And before we get to more on that, I do, though, want to bring in Dr. Jen Ashton, because it was all over social media during the debate, a lot of people noticing that Mike Pence appeared to have some kind of pink eye. What did you notice? 

DR. JEN ASHTON: Well, George, you’re not going to be surprised to hear me say this, but no one can make anyone diagnosis over TV, but what do we know about ocular or eye manifestations in COVID, it has been reported, though it’s limited in the medical literature, that 11 percent to 30 percent of COVID positive patients can have pink eye, it can be an early sign, but George, he could have just had some makeup in his eye. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, so, we’ll be — we’ve put the questions to the Vice President’s office. We’ll see what they say about that. Meantime, I know Mary Bruce and Rachel Scott are in the hall. Mary, what are you hearing from the Kamala Harris camp? 

MARY BRUCE: Well, the Kamala Harris team and the Biden campaign feels that she had a strong debate performance here. There’s no surprise in that. They say that what was clear tonight, one aide telling me, they — they feel that Pence failed to make an argument for a second term. They say that he brought nothing new, saying it was just smoother and in complete sentences, saying that folks at home aren’t buying it. And George, what simply was most striking, having been in the room last week and here tonight, just now normal this felt. It felt like a normal traditional debate, despite the very unusual circumstances here, seeing the two of them separated by that plexiglass, all of us here in our masks. The level of civility. There was a low bar for it after last week’s debate, but it was just astounding straight off the bat and what felt very normal about this was how so often they didn’t answer the questions. Both of them often dodging, refusing to answer simple yes or no questions at points referring back to their talking points and how much of this debate did become about a fact-check. That is something that Kamala Harris was trying to avoid not spending so much time debating what really is true and is not with Mike Pence. He was able to drag her into some of those conversations and, of course, those notable dodges from both sides. Kamala Harris still not giving a clear answer on the question of packing the Courts. Mike Pence still not giving a clear answer on the question of health care and their plan to continue to protect pre-existing conditions. 

(….)

10:39 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring in Rahm Emanuel, did anybody win? Did this make any difference?

RAHM EMANUEL: No hits, no runs, no errors, so therefore, it’s a loss for Trump. They needed to change the dynamics of this race and if they didn’t do that, they didn’t make any gains here. I would just say that, in this case, right now, the Trump/Pence ticket has a 31 percent deficit with women voters. There is nothing that showed tonight that they not only narrowed that gap, if anything, I would say widened it. When you’re the vice president, you’re attacking your opponent, who happens to be a woman, you can do that, but the journalist who is asking the question, I don’t think that helped them with the women vote in general. So, I would say that while this will not change the trajectory of the race, that therefore is a loss for Donald Trump, who is somewhere in the double digits losing right now and specifically among women, that was not very — I mean, Mike Pence, I know him. He used to be across the hall from me when we were Congress. We’d walk together in the halls all of the time. You have a reporter and a woman candidate and both of them you are interrupted, both of them you are attacking, not a good sign. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sara Fagen, let me bring that to you because obviously Mike Pence, who’s a former television commentator, does have a very calm demeanor, but I think a lot of people were noticing some mansplaining going on tonight. 

SARA FAGEN: I don’t know. I didn’t see that way, George. It didn’t come across to me. I do think he should have stopped talking a little quicker, but I don’t think he was disrespectful of either woman. I thought he did a really strong job tonight and what Matt Dowd said in the preprogram before the debate I thought made a lot of sense, which is his job was to stop the bleeding and I think he accomplished that tonight. He was very strong on the economy. He really had Kamala Harris on the defense, specifically on the Green New Deal and the impact that would have on jobs and taxes. So, I thought he did a great job. I think he did what he needed to do. I don’t think this changes the trajectory of the race. But most importantly, for Mike Pence, he did himself a lot of good for his political future. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sara Fagen, thanks. Yvette Simpson, let me bring to you — pick up on what Linsey was saying earlier, did Kamala Harris miss some opportunities to follow up with Mike Pence and prosecute the case a little bit more, or was it effective for her to then, instead, take those opportunities, turn directly to the camera, talk to people at home? 

YVETTE SIMPSON: I think the second thing. I think she held her own. A couple of times, she had to remind him that she was speaking. She had to remind him, that how dare he tell her anything about criminal justice reform, when she’s the expert in the room. I think her face, like most black women, said way more than her words and even though he had more words, I think she had the greater impact tonight. I think that the way he spoke over her, but the moderator, it reminded people of last week, although it wasn’t nearly extreme. It also shows an extreme disrespect to the process and the fact that he didn’t really add much by adding more words. So, I think she had a really great balance. I love the fact that she really did bring the economy to him, take the time to explain to the American people what some of these things mean, which I thought was very generale, I think was very professional of her to say, you know, debt, that’s this, you know, she made another example. This is — let me explain this to you, and I thought that was a very great way of bringing the audience in — into the conversation and I loved the fact that she continued to reinforce Donald Trump’s failed record among African-Americans. I thought the race question, she handled it very, very well and Pence had no rebuttal on that, that was valid. So I think she won the day today. 

(….)

10:48 p.m. Eastern

JONATHAN KARL: But, George, I have to say, watching both of them, what you saw was a contrast to Donald Trump. It was in a way like both of them were against Donald Trump, at least in terms of demeanor, in the way they presented themselves. Mike Pence started the debate off by saying it was a privilege to be on the same stage as Kamala Harris, commending her for making history. Hardly the approach that Donald Trump has — has taken towards Joe Biden. It was also somewhat maddening at times to see both of them avoid answering basic questions and not really seeing enough of a follow-up. But especially Mike Pence and anybody, as I know you have many times who has interviewed Mike Pence, knows he has an amazing ability not to answer a direct question and you really have to press him. There was no real opportunity to do it here. I recall a coronavirus briefing back in April where the President marveled at Pence, saying, that was one of the most amazing answers I’ve ever seen, because you spoke for five minutes and you didn’t touch the question. That’s basically the approach he took over and over again tonight. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, I want to bring that to Martha Raddatz as well. Martha, you’ve, of course, interviewed Mike Pence, you interviewed many of the people in Washington every single day, every single week, but you also moderated debates, and as I said at the top, Susan Page had some very well-crafted questions, but what good is that if you don’t follow up to get the answer? 

MARTHA RADDATZ: I think one of the things is you really do have to listen to what they’re saying and then follow up and we seemed to move pretty quickly onto the next question. There were very few answers to questions that Susan Page asked and they were well-crafted questions, but you really didn’t get a lot of answers. I actually thought the debate in itself was a little bit of an overcorrection of last week. I know Mike Pence said they had a vigorous debate, but I think basically there were a lot of talking points. They both got their talking points out. They both made it through and can I just say one more tiny thing, George, when I hear people say, talk about mansplaining and talk about Kamala Harris, a man shouldn’t interrupt her, it’s going to look bad, Kamala Harris is a vice presidential candidate. She should be able to stand up for herself. Yes, it’s history-making. Yes, you can talk about her history who she is, and she’s a woman of color there, but a man can interrupt another vice presidential candidate. It is up to that candidate to talk back, to interrupt themselves, or to hold onto that debate in any way they could. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Cecilia Vega, take on that point. 

CECILIA VEGA: Well, and I think we saw Kamala Harris do that. And I think, actually, one of the headlines coming out of this debate, George, is going to be the remarkable split screen that we saw and the facial expressions that Kamala Harris had as Vice President Mike Pence was talking. I mean, that really — that really is going to be a big takeaway. I want to go back to this question of issues not being answered, because that is the other big headline out of this. And here’s why it matters because we have the two oldest presidential candidates in history running at the top of these tickets and these issues that they — that these two candidates, vice presidential candidates did not address, packing the Supreme Court, health care, the future of COVID come January, February 2021, are issues that these two people, they may very well have to address if something were to happen to the two people at the top of the ticket. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Cecilia, thank you. Byron Pitts, did you learn anything tonight? 

BYRON PITTS: George, in a word, no. The candidates spent the most time talking about these three issues: foreign policy, COVID, and race. And I think America got to see how — how the two campaigns, see the world differently. At one point, Pence said, I trust our justice system. Well, George, that’s the whole purpose, the whole reason why we’re having this racial reckoning in America today because most Americans and statistically, that’s not true, so I don’t think we learned anything new. I think it reinforced the narrative about how these two campaigns see America.

Published at Thu, 08 Oct 2020 03:00:00 +0000