CNN moderator criticized for question to Sanders

A CNN debate moderator is coming under criticism for asking Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Mnuchin, Schumer in talks to strike short-term relief deal | Small businesses struggling for loans | Treasury IG sends Dems report on handling of Trump tax returns Trump says Obama knows 'something that you don't know' about Biden Senators push for changes to small business aid MORE (D-Mass.) what she thought when Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump says Obama knows 'something that you don't know' about Biden The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders exits, clearing Biden's path to nomination Former Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report MORE (I-Vt.) reportedly told her that a woman could not win the presidential election, seconds after Sanders flatly denied he ever told Warren such a thing.

The different accounts from Sanders and Warren of the conversation at their December 2018 meeting was a highlight of Tuesday night’s debate.

CNN moderator Abby Phillip raised the issue about an hour into the two-hour debate, asking Sanders about CNN’s report of the conversation.

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“Sen. Sanders, CNN reported yesterday, and Sen. Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018 you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?” Phillips asked Sanders.

“Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it,” Sanders responded.

“I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos MORE and maybe some of the media want. Anybody knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be president of the United States," Sanders replied. “Go to YouTube today. There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States.”

“So Sen. Sanders, I do want to be clear here,” Phillip followed up, “you’re saying that you never told Sen. Warren that a woman could not win the election?”

“That is correct,” Sanders said.

Phillip then turned to Warren, who on Monday night released a statement that corroborated with CNN’s account of the meeting. In the statement, Warren said she had disagreed with Sanders on the subject of whether a woman could win the presidency.

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“Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?” Phillip asked Warren.

Warren responded with some initial comments that echoed her Monday statement.

“I disagreed. Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But, look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised, and it's time for us to attack it head-on," Warren replied.

Critics of the exchange, including some members of the media, argued that it was unfair for Phillip to frame the question to Warren that presented as fact that Sanders had said a woman couldn’t win the White House.

The criticism came from media commentators such as NPR’s David Folfenflik and National Review's Rich Lowry.

 

Supporters of Sanders were also unhappy with the framing.

 

Sanders and Warren are in a tight four-way race ahead of the Iowa caucuses early next month with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders exits, clearing Biden's path to nomination Former Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report Sanders exit leaves deep disappointment on left MORE and Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegFormer Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report Sanders exit leaves deep disappointment on left Michael Bennet endorses Biden for president MORE, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.