The Slatest

Hot Mic Debate Audio of Warren and Bernie Proves One Thing: Tom Steyer Is Just Psyched to Be Here

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders face each other in a heated conversation onstage as Tom Steyer looks on beside them.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders. Tom Steyer was there too, running for president. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren versus Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders! The matchup true blue Democratic believers have been pining for. Two senators, both of whom are currently on course to lose to Joe Biden, mano a mano debating the issues facing the count—err, on what was said in a private meeting between the two last year. Ding! Ding! Ding! Sanders has vehemently denied dismissing a female candidate’s ability to win the presidency in 2020 during his discussion with Warren, who, for her part, has said the opposite about the conversation. Well, since the primary season is now 43 months long, even an unresolvable dispute is better than no dispute at all, so take it away, guys! And they did.

During the latest Democratic debate Tuesday night on CNN, Sanders reiterated his denial, in more miffed terms this time, and then everyone moved on, agreeing to disagree, right? Wrong. The two candidates engaged in what appeared to be an awkward non-handshake moment onstage after the debate came to an end. It was hard to tell what exactly went down, but fear not! CNN, being a highly specialized global broadcaster of images and sound, unearthed the audio, it says, from “backup recordings from the microphones Sanders and Warren were wearing,” which it then synchronized with the footage.

Here’s what went down. In the preamble to the tête-à-tête, as is custom, both senators cordially congratulated other competitors on their debate performance. “Joe, good job,” Warren said to Joe Biden, shaking hands. “Good to see you.” “Good job, Pete [Buttigieg],” Sanders said. “Good job, Amy [Klobuchar].” And then Warren sought out Sanders at the center of the stage.

“I think you called me a liar on national TV,” Warren said.

“What?” Sanders responded.

“I think you called me a liar on national TV,” Warren repeated.

“Let’s not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion,” Sanders said. “Anytime,” Warren interjected. “You called me a liar,” Sanders continued. “You told me—all right, let’s not do it now.”

And there you have it. Sanders supporters are furious because Warren is clearly a conniving opportunist orchestrating a center-stage hit to take Bernie down! And, if you read the internet, CNN is very clearly in cahoots! Warren supporters, meanwhile, are 100 percent sure that Bernie Sanders is a latent sexist! He always has been! That’s why many of them voted for him last time!

Meanwhile, everyone else is Tom Steyer. Just a self-funding billionaire running for president, trying to say “good game” before heading offstage for some orange slices and Gatorade. “I don’t want to get in the middle,” Steyer interjected awkwardly into the shade. “I just wanted to say hi, Bernie.” “Yeah good,” Sanders replied. “It was a treat to see you,” Steyer continued. “OK,” Sanders said.