Did you catch any of the close encounter between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in Durham on MSNBC last night? By far the most striking element of the affair was the concern of moderators Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow to perform their function on behalf of a Democratic audience, posing questions of concern to Democrats while raising no challenge to the candidates themselves. Todd and Maddow sought capably to vet Clinton and Sanders for Democrats seeking the strongest general election candidate. One could not miss their understanding of their role on the team.
On the question of Clinton’s unsecured private email server for her official business as Secretary of State, for example, Chuck Todd merely sought Clinton’s reassurance that the ongoing FBI investigation constitutes no threat to her. The question had already been asked by Todd himself and answered by Clinton on Meet the Press as recently as January 24, but Clinton was undoubtedly grateful for the opportunity to reiterate and amplify her previous answer. Since Todd asked her the same question on January 24, however, the State Department has withheld 22 of Clinton’s emails from production in their entirety on the ground that they contain information classified Top Secret. You’d think that might have caused Todd to modify the question slightly, but no. Clinton recited a more emphatic version of her mantra about the lack of classified markings on the emails.
On this occasion Clinton replied that she’s “100 percent confident” and while there “is a security review…being carried out,” she promised that “[i]t will be resolved, but I have to add if there’s going to be a security review about me, there’s going to be security reviews about a lot of other people, including Republican office holders, because we’ve got this absurd situation of retroactive classifications.”
Given the seriousness of Clinton’s wrongdoing, Todd’s performance is utterly pathetic insofar as he is measured against a journalistic standard. Todd and Maddow, however, performed not as impartial journalists, but rather as members of the Democratic team. They sought to lend a hand to Democratic voters. In the Democrats’ parallel universe, they are planets orbiting the Sun Queen.