MR. BROKAW: Let me just share with you what The Wall Street Journal had to say about the opening statements of your two candidates at the debate the other night.Translation: The Wall Street Journal is absolutely right! The candidates have no real insight about our financial market issues and no political courage in offering a solution.
"The debate took place amid the backdrop of the financial crisis, and perhaps most disappointing was how neither man seemed to have anything useful to say about it. ... What neither man showed was any real insight about our financial market issues, or any political courage in offering a solution."
Are you going to have to go back and replate [sic] your economic program, Mr. Axelrod, going forward, because of the changed conditions that result--as a result of this bailout program?
MR. AXELROD: Well, first of all, I don't accept the premise of the Journal piece. The fact is that Senator Obama's been warning for a year and a half about this crisis--about the possibility of such a crisis because of the lack of oversight and greed on Wall Street... But the decisions we make are to prioritize, and this is what Senator Obama said that night, are to prioritize the middle class. What was phenomenal about that debate was that in 40 minutes on the economy, Senator McCain never once mentioned the middle class, never talked about the struggles people are going through. We need to create an economic recovery plan that puts at its core the middle class in this country.
MR. SCHMIDT: Well, Tom, you know, this was a debate about national security, about foreign policy. You never heard the word victory from Senator Obama when it came to wars this country's fighting. But we did talk about the middle class.....
I'm skipping all the other blah blah blah, which you can read at the link. It's about Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, al Qaeda, etc. Then Brokaw ends the interview like this:
MR. BROKAW: In fairness to everybody here, I'm just going to end on one note, and that is that we continue to poll on who's best equipped to be commander in chief, and John McCain continues to lead in that category despite the criticism from Barack Obama by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.What? Why was it a matter of "fairness to everybody here" to end the debate with a thudding, unanswered poll result? At the end of a discussion in which both candidates were perfectly well represented by their mouthpieces, Brokaw thought fairness required him to say, essentially, "Well, the American people still think McCain is much better on these questions."
Gentlemen, thank you very much. I wish we could spend the rest of the day talking about these issues. But you're invited back, and I hope you'll make your second appearance right here on MEET THE PRESS.
Brokaw began the discussion by saying "We're not going to get into this business about who won and lost the debate." He made a point of not presenting Schmidt and Axelrod with poll numbers on that subject. And none of his other questions were based on polls, nor did Schmidt and Axelrod bring up any polls. So why did Brokaw end like that?
My guess? Inside NBC, they are fretting about criticism that they show favoritism toward Obama, so Brokaw thought it might help to lob out a glaring hunk of McCain favoritism. Sorry! That just looked really weird. Consequently, it reinforced the perception that NBC favors Obama.
UPDATE: I was right!