Anderson Cooper recites: Wednesday evening, the Obama-Romney debates begin.
For that reason, our pseudo-journalists are busy reciting their guild’s Standard Tales from Past Presidential Debates.
Last evening, Anderson Cooper read almost all the standard scripts. Along the way, he offered these nicely-twinned groaners
COOPER (9/28/12): Body language plays a part in the presidential debates. In 1992, George H. W. Bush deliberately looks at his watch and he pays for it when the audience and voters see it as disrespectful.Body language! At any rate:
Body language makes a difference in the debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush as well. Gore sighs over and over again. And Bush, the underdog, surprises by winning the debate and, of course, the election.
As recited by Cooper, one of these scripted tales is foolish. The other tale is false.
Let’s start with false. According to Cooper, Candidate Gore sighed over and over again at his first debate with Candidate Bush. Apparently as a result, “Bush, the underdog, surprise[d] by winning the debate.”
Increasingly, that last claim is part of the script, but it’s just basically false. After that first Bush-Gore debate, five major news orgs conducted “overnight polls,” surveying people who watched the debate.
Gore was the winner in all five surveys. He won by an average margin of ten points.
Cooper works for CNN. Gore won CNN’s overnight poll, 56 percent to 42—unless you listen to Cooper today, in which case Gore of course lost.
By the way: Did Gore “sigh over and over again” at that debate? On balance, we’d have to say no. If you want to test this question yourself, you can watch that full 90-minute debate at C-Span.
We watched that tape about six months ago. You can hear a few sighs or intakes of breath—but in all honesty, we’d say that they’re few and far between. If you watch the full 90 minutes, you can decide for yourself.
Did George Bush win that first debate? Only after the press corps began playing videotaped loops of Gore’s troubling sighs (with the volume cranked, of course). And only after the press corps invented several new “lies” by Gore.
Today, the press corps tends to focus on the alleged sighs, not on the invented lies—but they largely invented both these themes. And just for the record: Before the propaganda took hold, Gore won all five overnight surveys of people who watched the debate.
The second part of that passage from Cooper is just foolish—monstrously so.
No guild member can review past debates without recalling the terrible time when Candidate Bush stole a look at his watch. This tale is profoundly foolish.
Can we talk? People look at their watches all the time. That’s pretty much why they buy them.
Beyond that, performers, or competitors in timed events, will often want to know how far along the event has gone. There’s nothing odd about a debater checking his watch—unless the “press corps” has a story it very much wants to tell.
In that campaign, the “press corps” wanted to say these words: “President Bush is out of touch.” Twenty years later, Bush’s disrespectful conduct is part of Official Guild Lore.
Today, candidates routinely remove their watches before they start their debates! They do so lest this gang of chimps tell a tale about their body language, a tale in which they too are ruined because of a glance at a watch.
There are perhaps a dozen Standard Tales about Past Presidential Debates. Each day as Wednesday night approaches, we’ll show you another press corps member reciting some silly/false tale.