Jim Webb critical of CNN, Anderson Cooper for handling of presidential debate

jim-webbJim Webb had to fight for the right to talk during Tuesday’s CNN Democratic Party presidential debate, and in doing so has been pilloried in the media for supposedly wasting his time to point out that he was getting shafted.

Seems fair.

“I’ll be very frank here. It was rigged in terms of who was going to get the time on the floor by the way that Anderson Cooper was selecting people to supposedly respond to someone else. I even turned around to Bernie Sanders at one point and said, ‘Bernie, say my name, will you say my name?’” Webb said Thursday in an event at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Webb had 15:35 of speaking time in the debate, according to an analysis by the New York Times. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had 31:05 of speaking time, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had 28:05.

“It’s very difficult to win a debate when you don’t have the opportunity to get to speak in the same amount of time on issues as the others get. It’s the reality that the debate was being portrayed as a showdown between Mrs. Clinton and Bernie. But if you are going to be invited to participate and people are going to judge whether you, quote, won or not, at least you should be able to have the kind of time that’s necessary to discuss issues that you care about and have worked on,” Webb said.

It’s bad enough that Webb didn’t get anything resembling equal time. The backlash against Webb for raising issue with his less-than-equal time led by CNN personalities defending moderator Anderson Cooper has been over the top.

“There were so many issues out there that I have done pioneering work on – for instance, criminal justice reform, when I took great risk beginning in ’06 with my political career by saying that we have a broken criminal justice system and we have to fix it. It’s not a political problem. We turned that issue around in the space of about five hard years of work so that now it is comfortably in the nation discussion. It was not that way when we started,” Webb said.

“But it’s very difficult to make those kinds of points – and also the foreign policy differences that I have had with the past couple of administrations in terms of where we put our priorities, when we can’t talk. I think I got 14 minutes in two hours.”

– Story by Chris Graham


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