A Navy blogger I follow wrote a strange article today arguing that George Stephanopoulos is “not a real journalist”and that he’s still acting as a Democratic “operative.” I’m a big fan of “This Week” on ABC, primarily because of the awesomeness that is George Will, but I’ve always thought Stephanpoulos to be a fair-minded moderator, so this argument seemed out of left field. You can read the meat of the argument at Legal Insurrection as well, but the argument goes back to the debate in early January where Stepanopoulos asked Romney about the Constitutional right to contraception:
Everyone, at least on our side of the aisle, shook their heads in disbelief as to why Stephanopoulos was bringing up the issue……
Well what do you know, about a month later the Obama administration proposes administrative rules under Obamacare which would require free contraception be provided even by religious institutions which oppose contraception on religious grounds.
It’s almost as if Stephanopoulos got the memo first. Unless, of course, you believe in coincidences.
First of all, the question had essentially nothing to do with the right of religious organizations to provide or refuse to provide a service (1st Amendment), it has to do with the privacy right for anyone to purchase contraception (14th Amendment, among others.) Even assuming Steph. was acting on inside information about Obama’s plans, what possible good did asking that question do for the Obama administration’s nefarious plans? It doesn’t go them or him any good.
Second of all, we know why Stephanopolous asked the question, because Stephen Colbert asked him about it later that week:
COLBERT: OK, OK. Romney’s basically saying you’re a silly little child. And the audience is going, “We hate him, too.” What does it feel like at that moment?
STEPHANOPOULOS: At that moment, I’m thinking, I really want to win this bet.
COLBERT: What was the bet?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Diane Sawyer bet me that I couldn’t get Mitt Romney to say “contraceptions are working just fine.”
All jokes/bets aside, the real reason he asked the question was embedded in the actual question he asked Romney – the video posted both at CDR Salamander and at Legal Insurrection deliberately cuts the context of the question out to make it look like it comes from left field, but the full text of the question is:
Senator Santorum has been very clear in his belief that the SC was wrong, when it decided that a right to privacy was embedded in the Constitution…he believes that States have the right to ban contraception. I should add that he’s not recommending that States do that…but I do want to get to that core question. Do you believe that States have the right to ban contraception?
The “Stephanopoulos as arch-Democratic operative” narrative relies on the question seeming to come from left field – Legal Insurrection asserts that:
There was no active controversy over contraception
But just days before the debate, Santorum made it a controversy by asserting that contraception isn’t a Constitutional right:
“The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that,” he said. “It is not a constitutional right. The state has the right to pass whatever statutes they have.
I think asking whether or not a Presidential candidate believes in a right to privacy in this sphere is more than fair, and I was disappointed that Romney essentially refeused to give a straight answer on it. I’ve even more disappointed to read such crazy conspiracies that have a clear and unambiguous response.