Before last night's vice presidential debate, CNN anchor and moderator Bernard Shaw suggested in an Associated Press story: "I'm an old-fashioned journalist who believes in being fair, balanced and accurate, and those principles color everything I do."
That promise was not kept last night. Shaw displayed more liberal bias during the debate in the agenda of his questions about gender pay, gay rights, and how Social Security is sacrosanct, than the networks did afterward. Shaw posed no explicitly conservative agenda questions while he posed at least three questions explicitly from the left.
Just 15 minutes into the 90-minute session Shaw forwarded as fact a liberal canard: "Gentlemen, this is the 21st century. Yet on average an American working woman in our great nation earns 75 cents for each dollar earned by a working male. What do you males propose to do about it?" (The Independent Women's Forum published a study showing how women with equal years in the work force and comparable qualifications as men make 98 percent as much.)
"We all know Social Security is the backbone of the retirement system in our nation. Can either of you pledge tonight, categorically, that no one will lose benefits under your plans?"
"Senator, sexual orientation. Should a male who loves a male and a female who loves a female have all, all the constitutional rights enjoyed by every American citizen?" Who says they don't?
On Wednesday, Gore criticized Jim Lehrer for failing to ask questions that blacks would want to hear, but said he was certain Shaw "will bring up most of these subjects." Shaw directed the nominees: "You are black for this question. Imagine yourself an African-American. You become the target of racial profiling either while walking or driving. African-American Joseph Lieberman, what would you do about it?" Shaw did not ask about Lieberman's desire to meet with anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Shaw did raise the hypocrisy charge with each nominee. He asked Cheney why he worked to put part of Wyoming off limits to oil exploration, but not parts of Alaska. Later he asked Cheney if he'd noticed any "hypocritical shift by your opponent on positions and issues since he was nominated?"
When Cheney gently hit Lieberman's Hollywood flip-flops, Lieberman amazingly declared: "I have not changed a single position since Al Gore nominated me to be his Vice President." NBC's Lisa Myers was the only reporter on the "truth squad" beat, but neither she nor anyone else noticed this whopper after the debate (see box). - Tim Graham and Brent Baker