CNN debate moderator Abby Phillip appeared to side with Elizabeth Warren over campaign rival Bernie Sanders in the ongoing dispute over whether Sanders told Warren a woman couldn't be elected president.
Sanders was asked early on in Tuesday's debate about CNN's report that he told Warren during a private 2018 meeting that he believed a woman couldn't win the election. He flatly denied ever making the comment.
"I do want to be clear here," Phillip said. "You're saying you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?"
"That is correct," Sanders said.
Phillip dismissed Sanders's denial and proceeded to state the accusation made in the CNN report as fact when she handed the question over to Warren.
"Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?" Phillip said, eliciting a look of disbelief from Sanders.
Warren said in a Monday statement that Sanders did indeed tell her a woman could not win the presidency. Sanders has called the accusation "ludicrous."
The moment earned immediate scorn from reporters such as Tom Bevin of RealClearPolitics, who referred to it as a "moderator fail."
Moderator fail. https://t.co/kqm7KGqKTT
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) January 15, 2020
CNN is just going ahead and declaring Sanders said that, even with a denial and even with no evidence?
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) January 15, 2020
HUH, that CNN is not asking Warren "did Sanders say that?" but instead "what did you think when Sanders said that?"
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(Immediately after Sanders repeatedly denied he said it.)
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) January 15, 2020
Terrible questioning by women moderators: Ask Warren directly, so are you saying he's lying? They just accepted that Sanders was lying — and then asked E.W. what she thought when he said it and then let her use it as a jumping off pt to talk about women's ability to win.
— Susan Crabtree (@susancrabtree) January 15, 2020
It was a very telling moment when Bernie said he didn't say a woman couldn't win and then in the very next moment, the moderator just asserted that he had.
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) January 15, 2020