Michael Gaynor
Has Hofstra University disqualified itself from hosting a 2020 Presidential Debate?
By Michael Gaynor
May 19, 2019

Presidential debates should be hosted at a site where the reality of "fake news" is not dogmatically denied and the search for the truth proceeds fairly, as well as impartial moderators, not agenda-driven arbitrators.

Perhaps Hofstra University's greatest distinction is having hosting presidential debates in three successive presidential elections – 2008, 2012 and 2016.

That accomplishment is unique to Hofstra University, my alma mater. located in Hempstead, Long Island, New York.

On May 19, 2019, I attended my fiftieth college reunion at Hofstra University and its unique distinction was very understandably mentioned.

Will Hofstra University host a presidential debate in 2020 and go four in row?

More importantly, should it?

Like presidential debate moderators, presidential debate hosts should be impartial, not rabidly partisan.

The graduation ceremony that I attended today was anything but impartial or, as Fox News, would put it, "fair and balanced."

The guest speaker and honorary doctorate recipiet was CNN's Wolf Blitzer, dutifully described in the commencement exercises booklet as "Award-winning Journalist and Lead Political Anchor, CNN...."

Anchors are supposed to report the news, not opine, like commentators.

Blitzer reported that his parents were legal immigrants to the United States who had survived the Holocaust and that he had been a valet parker and cab driver before going to graduate school and joining CC, where he has enjoyed himself so much that what he does there isn't work.

Trump bashing surely seems to be enjoyable at CNN.

Accordingly, it was not surprising that Blitzer blasted President Trump for using the words "fake news" to describe what Blitzer assured listeners are facts and "enemies of the people" to describe journalists who report "fake news" instead of actual facts.

Equally unsurprising, Blitzer neglected to report that the Mueller report found no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign or to share how he would have responded if he had been the subject of scurrilous and baseless charges of treason for more than two years.

As if that was not enough partiality, Hofstra University conferred its presidential medal on "former Attorney General Loretta Lynch...a leading progressive voice during her more than 30-year highly distinguished career" who "served as the head of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York twice, under both President Clinton and President Obama."

Should Hofstra University host a presidential debate in 2020?

Hofstra University has shown that it can host presidential debates, but it needs to prove that it should continue to host them and its honoree choices this year were blatantly partisan and decidedly unbalanced politically.

Presidential debates can be decisive, and we should remember how CNN's Candy Crowley salvaged President Obama's floundering 2016 reelection campaign by shifting from debate moderator to arbitrator in the last presidential debate after Republican challenger Mitt Romney had won the first two debates.

The Daily beast summed it up this way (www.thedailybeast.com/candy-crowley-injects-herself-into-the-presidential-debate?ref=scroll):

"With five words, Candy Crowley placed herself at the center of Tuesday's presidential debate – underscoring her determination to restrain the candidates.

"It was no surprise to anyone who has followed the CNN anchor's blunt-spoken style that she would try to set the record straight. But it landed her in a cauldron of controversy at the face-off at Hofstra University.

"The debate 'didn't faze me as much as everyone seemed to think it did,' Crowley told me Wednesday morning.

"As for Republicans who ripped her as unfair, an obviously tired Crowley said, 'I'm sorry they're upset, but tomorrow they'll be upset about something else, as will the Democrats.'

"Despite the town-hall format, Crowley – the second female moderator of a presidential debate – had signaled for days that she would inject herself forcefully into the debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. And that she did.

"When Romney was mounting an attack on the president for the administration's shifting explanations of the attack of American diplomats in Libya, he hit a nerve.

"'For fourteen days he refused to call it an act of terror,' Romney said.

"Obama objected, telling Romney to check the transcript. At that point, Crowley attempted a rare feat during a presidential debate: fact-checking in real time. 'He did in fact, sir,' Crowley told Romney referring to the president's initial description of the assault on the U.S. Consulate.

"Crowley told me she tried to clear up the question of how Obama had originally characterized the attack because 'I was trying to move the conversation along. They got stuck on this.'"

That's nonsense.

Crowley was protecting President Obama from a truthful political attack by Romney and falsifying the historical record to do it.

As former New Hampshire governor John Sununu told reporters, "Both the moderator and the president were dead wrong on the Libya question." He added, "Candy was wrong. Candy had no business doing that ... I think Candy Crowley decided she wanted to be an active part of the debate."

Crowley was "dead wrong" and her falsehood was very costly to Romney, who chose to tolerate it instead of to confront her and expose it.

Presidential debates should be hosted at a site where the reality of "fake news" is not dogmatically denied by a person with a vested interest in denying it and the search for the truth should proceed fairly, as well as impartial moderators, not agenda-driven arbitrators posing as moderators.

© Michael Gaynor


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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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