In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadephia.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health care and mortgage crises, the overall state of the economy and dozens of other pressing issues had to wait for their few moments in the sun as Obama was pressed to explain his recent "bitter" gaffe and relationship with Rev. Wright (seemingly a dead issue)and not wearing a flag pin, while Clinton had to answer again for her Bosnia trip exaggerations. Then it was back to Obama to defend his slim association with a former '60s radical -- a question that came out of rightwing talk radio and Sean Hannity on TV, but delivered by former Bill Clinton aide Stephanopolous. This approach led to a claim that Clinton's husband pardoned two other '60s radicals. And so on.
More time was spent on all of this than segments on getting out of Iraq and keeping people from losing their homes. Yet neither candidate had the courage to ask the moderators to turn to those far more important issues.