The papers weren't too impressed, either. Here's Tom Schales from The Washington Post on Charles Gibson's antics:
Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other's running mate, "to both of you," which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, "Don't all speak at once."
And on George Stephanopoulos:
He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation.
My favorite Stephanopoulos question:
Senator, two questions. Number one, do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?
Are you f**king kidding me?
Andrew Sullivan on the content of the questions:
No questions on the environment, none on terror, none on interrogation, none on torture, none on education, none on spending, none on healthcare, none on Iran ... but four separate questions in the first hour about a lapel-pin, Bitter-gate, Wright-gate and Ayers.
In fact, DHinMI at dKos kept a tally of subjects the moderators never touched in the 2 hours they had with the candidates:
The financial crisis
The collapse of housing values in the US and around the world
The declining value of the US Dollar
The decline of American manufacturing
The Supreme Court
The burgeoning world food crisis.
The attacks on organized labor and the working class
Terrorism and al Qaeda
Civil liberties and constraints on government surveillance
We also found out about Charles Gibson's-- and, today, the NYT's Adam Nagourney's-- view that the middle class includes "those making less than $200,000 to $250,000 a year." This means that "middle class" includes people in the top 4% of US households. Put another way, these people would have us believe that households making $25k/year and $250k/year belong in the same wealth class.
This is actually a recurring issue with Gibson. I was reminded today that it was Gibson at another Dem debate at St. Anselm's college earlier this year who said that, if you look at a household with two college professors, you're looking at a household that brings in 200k/year. That question was met with such loud snickers and laughter in the crowd that it led John Edwards to smirk and respond: "I don't think they agree with you."
To put it in perspective, I know a woman who recently landed a tenure-track gig at a major public university in Texas. She was highly sought after, having turned down an offer from Clemson in the process. Her salary: around $45k. That's slightly more than a typical librarian's salary. In some cases, professors make less than K-12 teachers.
Guess who thought ABC's questions were "excellent?"