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CNN moderator criticized for question to Sanders

A CNN debate moderator is coming under criticism for asking Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Broadband companies funded fake net neutrality comments, investigation finds | Twitter rolls out tip feature | Google to adopt 'hybrid work week' Warren: Trump is 'a danger to democracy' Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers MORE (D-Mass.) what she thought when Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders on Cheney drama: GOP is an 'anti-democratic cult' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden campaign promises will struggle if Republicans win back Congress Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers 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 TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments 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 BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE and Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden administration in talks with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti for India ambassador post: reports Business groups target moderate Democrats on Biden tax plans Biden plugs infrastructure with a personal favorite: Amtrak MORE, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.