The Slatest

CNN’s Debate Questions Were for Losers

Highlights of an all-night attack ad.

With 10 candidates on stage and Jake Tapper being bound by law to repeatedly scream “Senator” at intervals of 30 or 60 seconds, the format of the first night of the second round of Democratic debates was never exactly going to offer much in the way of substance. But CNN, being the enterprising cable network that it is, wasn’t about to let that stop it from actively making the night as dumb as humanly possible.

And so the moderators peppered the candidates with questions that were evidently designed to produce bad answers in the short format. Question after question was framed up from the ideological perspective of a Heritage Foundation intern or otherwise crafted as a gotcha to generate a 15-second clip for Republican attack ads down the line.

On the one hand, it was a gross display of cynical political theater that wasted everyone’s time. On the other, congratulations to CNN’s Chris Cillizza on what was undoubtedly a phenomenal night of stunted politics-like content. Here, straight from the screen, are the questions CNN decided America needed to hear.

In this screengrab from CNN, Bernie Sanders prepares to answer a question during Tuesday night's debate. The banner reads: What is your response to Congressman Delaney who says "Medicare for All" is "political suicide"?
CNN

Translation: Is “Medicare for All” too far left?

In this screengrab from CNN, Bernie Sanders and Tom Delaney argue. The banner reads: “Do you believe ‘Medicare for All’ is ‘political suicide’ ?”
CNN

Translation: Why do you insist on moving so far left?

In this screengrab from CNN, Elizabeth Warren debates. The banner reads: "Do you agree with Sen. Sanders when it comes to raising taxes on the middle class to pay for 'Medicare for All'?"
CNN

Translation: Why do you hate the middle class?

In this screengrab from CNN, Amy Klobuchar debates. The banner reads: “Are you not willing to fight for 'Medicare for All' as Senator Warren has suggested?"
CNN

Translation: Why are you a coward?

CNN
CNN

Translation: Why are you betraying unions?

In this screengrab from CNN, "Would you give health insurance to undocumented immigrants?"
CNN

Translation: What words would you like Donald Trump to quote when he attacks you and immigrants in the same breath?

In this screengrab from CNN, Bernie Sanders debates. The banner reads: "Do you believe guaranteeing more migrants free health care and college will encourage more illegal immigration?"
CNN

Translation: Why do you want to flood our country with illegal immigrants?

"Will Sen. Sanders' immigration proposals encourage more undocumented immigrants to come to the U.S.?"
CNN

Translation: Why does Sen. Bernie Sanders want to flood our country with illegal immigrants?

In this screengrab from CNN, John Hickenlooper debates. The banner reads: "Do you believe Sen. Sanders is too extreme to beat President Trump?"
CNN

Translation: Is Sanders too far left?

In this screengrab from CNN, Elizabeth Warren debates. The banner reads: "By calling yourself a capitalist, are you trying to convince voters you are a safer choice than Sen. Sanders?"
CNN

Translation: Are you deceiving the public about the fact that you, like Sanders, are too far left?

CNN
In this screengrab from CNN, Amy Klobuchar debates. The banner reads: “Sen. Klobuchar, who are you referring to when you say candidates are making promises just to get elected?”

Translation: Which candidates do you think are too far left?

In this screengrab from CNN, Tom Delaney debates. The banner reads: "Congressman Delaney, why do you believe the Green New Deal is not realistic?"
CNN

Translation: Why is the Green New Deal too far left?

In this screengrab from CNN, the banner reads: "Are you concerned about Sen. Sanders' plan to end new gas-powered car sales by 2040?"
CNN

Translation: Is Sanders too far left?

In this screengrab from CNN, Amy Klobuchar debates. The banner reads: “What do you say to Trump voters who prioritize the economy over the President's bigotry?”
CNN

Translation: Would you say the racists have a point, or would you like to call them “deplorable” on camera right now?

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O'Rourke are shown in this screengrab from CNN. The banner reads: "Should the U.S. be the 'policeman of the world'?"
CNN

Translation: Are you too weak to do wars?

In this screengrab from CNN, Elizabeth Warren debates. The banner reads: "Should the U.S. tie its own hands by having a policy not to use a nuclear weapon unless another country uses one first?"
CNN

Translation: Are you too weak to do nuclear wars?

In this screengrab from CNN, Pete Buttigieg debates while Bernie Sanders makes a concentrating expression. The banner reads: "Should voters consider age when choosing a President?"
CNN

Translation: Are you too young, or is Bernie Sanders too old?