The Rigged Debates

The Commission on Presidential Debates systematically screws over Republicans -- but especially one named Donald Trump.

After three decades of political atrocities perpetrated against Republicans it is clear that the allegedly neutral Commission on Presidential Debates is irredeemably corrupt.

No one knows this better than GOP candidate Donald Trump who has been abused and undermined by the commission’s corrupt practices and unfair policies in both debates so far. It is no coincidence that the commission itself is filled with Hillary Clinton supporters and anti-Trump Republicans.

First there was moderator Lester Holt’s prosecutor-style approach to interacting with Trump at the first debate, asking ideologically loaded questions that conformed to the Left’s agenda, cutting him off repeatedly, and arguing with him, while treating Democrat Hillary Clinton with kid gloves. In the second debate moderators Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper tag-teamed Trump with some success.

Trump attacked the commission during a Wednesday campaign rally in Ocala, Florida. His speech served as a desperately needed reminder that it is well past time to drive a stake through the heart of this powerful tool of the nation’s political establishment whose Washington, D.C. headquarters, quite appropriately, is mere blocks from K Street, the public thoroughfare synonymous with lobbying and the corruption that so often accompanies it.

Conservatives hardly need to be reminded how roughly and unfairly the commission-selected debate moderators have treated Republican candidates over the years.

The most infamous incident at the debates in decades took place at the debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012 that was moderated by Candy Crowley. Republicans looked on in stunned disbelief and horror when Crowley fact-checked a claim Romney made about Obama and got it wrong, thus unfairly negating Romney’s attack.

Many people including this writer believe Romney was set up by the Obama campaign and Crowley, perhaps with the connivance of the commission.

Romney said, “I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

Obama looked at Crowley and said in a self-satisfied way: “Get the transcript.”

It’s not clear that there was a transcript present, but Crowley addressed Romney, saying, “He did, in fact, sir. So let me call it an act of terror in the Rose Garden. He used the word …”

Ever the grandstanding showman, Obama jumped in, saying to applause from the audience, “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”

“He did call it an act of terror,” Crowley said. “It did, as well, take–it did, as well, take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.”

But Crowley was not correct about what Obama said in the Rose Garden. She lied to help the Obama campaign.

In fact in the remarks Obama made in the Rose Garden the day after the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, the president did not label Benghazi a terrorist attack. He said “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation,” but it was in a passage of his speech about the original 911 attacks in 2001.

Crowley’s stunt should have been a firing offense but nothing happened to her and she’s still at CNN.

Quite understandably, conservative activists have been begging the Republican National Committee for years to abandon the commission or at least put its foot down and insist on balanced, impartial moderators. But after every election people forget, the pressure gets dialed down, and nothing happens.

Recalling the Sept. 26 matchup with Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump said “the biggest thing that came out of the debate, in my opinion — and it really came out of the first debate, which if I didn’t have a fixed microphone or a broken microphone — nobody’s been able to tell me — but I watched.”

“Couldn’t talk very good because my mic didn’t work. But I watched, and I said, you know, it’s interesting. Hillary says she’s gonna do this and this and this and this, but she’s been there for 30 years. She never did it.”

Then he went after commission co-chairman Mike McCurry, who was Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary.

“And I said to her in the second debate — I said let me ask you a question. Let me — and by the way, you know that so-called Commission on Presidential Debates? The head guy used to work for Bill Clinton,” Trump said.

“Did you know that? I just found that out,” he said. “The head guy worked for Bill Clinton. Aye yai yai. What a rigged deal this is.”

The other current co-chairman is also a longtime partisan political operator.

His name is Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a high powered lobbyist whose first loyalty is to the almighty dollar. This gun-for-hire was RNC chairman and president of the American Gaming Association where he was credited with opening up new frontiers for commercial casinos throughout the country. Like President Obama, he has labeled his critics “enemies.”

Fahrenkopf told CNBC in August that Trump’s claim that the debate schedule was “rigged” may have backfired and helped the commission.

“In a way, the Trump attack helped us in meeting the argument that the third parties have had in their lawsuits against us for the last 20 years … that we are controlled by the [major] parties,” he said. “This clearly showed we are not controlled by the parties.”

But Trump may have been on to something “yuge” when he complained about the debate schedule.

As Dick Morris noted at the time, the commission’s decision to hold two of the debates on nights that conflict with high profile NFL games – and its stubborn refusal to consider rescheduling – “raises the question of pro-Hillary/anti-Trump bias on the Commission.”

By deliberately setting the debate dates opposite highly popular football games, the Commission seems to be angling to cut the viewership of white males, a key voting group generally supporting Trump, in a bid to reduce their interest in the election.

The co-chairman emeritus is Paul G. Kirk Jr., a former DNC chairman. Kirk was appointed senator from Massachusetts to complete the late Ted Kennedy’s term. Kirk co-founded the commission, a 501©(3) nonprofit, with Fahrenkopf in 1987.

Trump said he has zero respect for the commission, which only “sounds good.”

“Give me a break,” he continued. “That’s why I was so happy what we did to annihilate the enemy the other day. So happy. Because we’re dealing against a very dishonest system.”

There is proof that the commission rigged the two presidential debates that have taken place so far, along with the vice presidential debate.

Clinton, who is short, demanded a step-stool at the podium for the first debate so she wouldn’t be dwarfed by the much taller Trump. The commission denied her request but boosted her in another way. It allowed a custom-made podium to be used to make her look taller.

This may seem like a minor matter but it shows the commission’s willingness to distort reality. Call it affirmative action for short people.

Then there were Trump’s complaints about a malfunctioning microphone in the first debate. The commission admitted afterwards that he was right. “Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump’s audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall,” it acknowledged in a brief statement conspicuously lacking in details.

And what about the mysterious middle-aged man who popped up on the stage immediately after the first debate concluded? He grabbed papers from Hillary’s lectern and handed them to moderator Lester Holt. What was in those papers? There may be an innocent explanation for this but if so it doesn’t appear to have surfaced.

Holt, allegedly a registered Republican, was a terrible moderator. Essentially Holt and Hillary worked as a tag team beating Trump up. Holt treated Clinton gently but argued with Trump over and over again in a series of intense voir dires.

Paul Mirengoff argues Holt’s performance “was a nakedly biased effort to aid Hillary Clinton.”

The mischief began with the very first question. Holt proclaimed the state of the economy good, complained about inequality, and wanted to know what the candidates will do about it.

The question stated the premise of Hillary Clinton’s campaign: that President Obama has fixed the economy as a general matter but inequality remains (thus, of course, requiring the federal government to gain more power and enact more liberal policies). If the Clinton campaign had written the first question about the economy, it likely would have come up with this question.

Trump, of course, denies that the economy is doing well and contends that the squeeze on the middle class, not inequality, is our central problem. Holt, as was to be expected, took Clinton’s side before either candidate had even spoken.

Trump put in a very strong performance in the second debate Oct. 9 even though both of the moderators were obviously biased against him.

As Dan Gainor opines at the Fox News website,

Sunday night’s moderators Anderson Cooper, from CNN, and Martha Raddatz, from ABC, virtually took the field wearing blue jerseys with “I’m with her” on the back. Just as in baseball, candidates and moderators certainly used their bats. […]

Cooper started the fireworks on the second question with four follow-up questions attempting to skewer Trump on the latest video controversy about offensive things he said on an open mic. That set the tone for the evening and it wasn’t a neutral one. The interruptions were bad. The outright speaking for Clinton was worse.

Raddatz is the moderator who screwed up the 2012 veep debate, allowing Joe Biden to turn the event into a monologue. Raddatz has no business being anywhere near a debate stage because she has strong ties to the Left. Barack Obama attended her wedding to her now ex-husband Julius Genachowski. Genachowski was the controversial chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from June 2009 to May 2013.

For the second debate this cycle the commission refused to allow Trump to seat four women – Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Kathy Shelton – all of whom have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, in Trump’s box in Hillary’s line of site from the stage. Co-chairman Fahrenkopf informed the Trump campaign that if the women sat there, they would be removed from the box by security guards. “I will get security and yank them out of there,” he reportedly said.

Fahrenkopf insisted the agreement between the commission and the two campaigns that laid the foundation for the series of debates this year provided that only the candidates’ family members could sit in their respective four-seat boxes.

Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, disputed Fahrenkopf’s statement. She told CBS News on Monday that she had no idea why Fahrenkopf refused to let the women sit where Trump wanted them.

“I was surprised that they thwarted that, only because it did not say family box, it said V.I.P. box,” Conway said. “These women want to be heard.”

Even if it was a publicity stunt, why shouldn’t Trump have been allowed to choose who sat there? The Clinton campaign put prominent supporter and Trump tormenter Mark Cuban in the front row in the first debate after he claimed his presence would intimidate Trump.

Apparently nobody raised an eyebrow at the commission over Cuban’s seating.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said after the debate Sunday it was unfair for the commission to let Cuban sit in the front row while denying Bill Clinton’s accusers seats in the Trump box.

Giuliani accused Fahrenkopf of double-dealing.

“In the first debate with Mark Cuban, Fahrenkopf said we’ll make a deal and everybody will [be able] to approve who’s in the shot, and if it’s not family, they have a right to object and we have a right to object,” Trump’s most high-profile surrogate said. “So we object. But 10 minutes before that debate, he tells us he can’t do anything about Cuban sitting in the first row, that security can’t throw him out.”

Americans today are completely unaware that the Commission on Presidential Debates is not an instrument of democracy. It is a tool of the ruling elites of both major political parties who do not want change in America. The commission enforces the status quo and attempts every election cycle to delegitimize candidates who want positive change in the country. It is run by and totally dominated by the political establishment. Green Party strategist Kevin Zeese suggested to LifeZette that this was Hillary’s doing. “Hillary Clinton has done a really good job of uniting the two parties,” he said. “It’s almost like one party.”

The commission’s executive director, Janet H. Brown, was an appointee of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a notoriously ideologically squishy Republican. RINO Bush whose extravagantly funded run for the GOP nod flamed out spectacularly, is an advocate for open-borders, immigration amnesty, and Common Core.

And the commission’s board is no better. There isn’t a single person there who can credibly be called a conservative.

Not one.

Some board members have contributed to the Clinton campaign; not one has donated to the Trump campaign.

As Vincent Gioia writes at American Thinker, pointing out the commission is nonpartisan ignores the elephant in the room.

It’s true that there is a division of Republicans and Democrats, or their supporters, on the commission but the reality is that there 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 Democratic 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.

Don’t take Gioia’s word for it. Let’s take a look at the commission’s board members:

Howard G. Buffett, a moderate Republican, was a County Commissioner of Douglas County, Nebraska. A philanthropist, he is the son of left-wing billionaire Warren Buffett who is an outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter.

John C. Danforth, a hardcore #NeverTrump Republican, is the moderate former senator from Missouri. He said of Trump, “there’s an audience for this self-proclaimed great man, and for the anger and hatefulness that he expresses.”

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. is a former Republican governor of Indiana. Although he was a Reagan conservative, conservative activists have accused him of drifting to the middle. He is now president of Purdue University where in a Chris-Christie-hugs-President-Obama moment he emceed a Sept. 13 appearance on campus by Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson.

Charles Gibson, a left-wing former ABC World News anchor, is a huge Obamacare supporter. He famously skewered Sarah Palin in an interview.

John Griffen is a hedge fund manager who has donated to Trump-haters President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Jane Harman, a left-wing former Democrat congresswoman from California, scolded Trump in August. After Trump said he didn’t trust the intelligence community, Harman said such attacks “are not just counter-productive and reckless, they are downright dangerous.” 

Antonia Hernandez, president and CEO of the left-wing California Community Foundation, was also president and general counsel of the far-left Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). She is a Hillary Clinton donor. No board members have donated to the Trump campaign.

The Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, is a confirmed Trump hater. After Trump launched his campaign last year with a speech denouncing the illegal flow of Mexican criminals over the nation’s southern border, Jenkins said such “vitriol” was “churlish, insulting political theater.”

Jim Lehrer is a retired left-wing journalist who was news anchor at PBS.

Newton N. Minow is a former Democrat chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He called the GOP primary debates last year “terrible.”

Richard D. Parsons is a left-wing Republican, former chairman of Time Warner and Citigroup, and current chairman of the leftist Rockefeller Foundation. He was also counsel for Nelson Rockefeller and a senior White House aide under President Gerald Ford. Parsons said he never saw Trump as “presidential timber” and that while he didn’t support Hillary when she ran for senator she ended up being a “good senator.” This election cycle Parsons gave $2,700 to the Clinton campaign and $2,700 to Jeb Bush’s ill-fated campaign.

Dorothy S. Ridings is a journalism professor and executive at media company Knight Ridder and former president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. She was president of the left-wing League of Women Voters of the United States – the previous sponsor of the presidential debate series – from 1982 through 1986. She was a trustee of the extreme-left Ford Foundation.

Olympia Snowe is a left-wing former Republican senator from Maine. She is no fan of Trump. His campaign “absolutely is hurting our brand,” Snowe said a few months ago. “The question is how we unravel going forward. I fear the effects could be long-lasting. It’s tragic.”

Shirley M. Tilghman was director of policy and planning at the Department of State under then-Secretary Hillary Clinton. She is now president emerita of Princeton University. She appears in a Clinton campaign video titled “Hillary Fan” and reportedly praised the Democrat in speeches at Princeton.

With this kind of establishment firepower in place at the commission, somebody like Donald Trump could never ever expect to be treated fairly.

These people think of Trump as the New York City version of trailer trash. He’s a brash, ill-mannered outsider who doesn’t follow the rules of polite society and doesn’t know when to keep his big mouth shut.

The Commission on Presidential Debates exists to stigmatize and knee-cap candidates like Donald Trump who are serious about overthrowing their betters.

If Trump becomes president, one of his first priorities should be to burn the commission to the ground.