AMAC Exclusive – By Aaron Flanigan
As the third Republican presidential primary debate in Miami approaches this Wednesday, conservative groups are increasingly sounding the alarm about the long-established anti-conservative biases at the debate’s host network, NBC News—and urging the debate’s moderators, Lester Holt and Kristen Welker, to remember that they are in fact moderators—not participants—in the debate.
In late October, Doug Truax, president of Restoration of America, sent a scathing letter to Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel demanding that the RNC “immediately switch gears and retract your offer allowing NBC to moderate the upcoming debate.” He continued: “It is amazing this letter is necessary. It is beyond comprehension that the RNC would give a conservative smearing, round-the-clock misinformation network like NBC the right to host a Republican presidential debate.”
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, agreed. “[Y]our past performances moderating debates and your slanted news coverage on behalf of NBC make me very doubtful whether you can be effective in this process,” he wrote in a letter to the NBC moderators. “But I write this out of eternal optimism that anyone can learn.”
A recent Daily Caller column reiterated this same point: “If Holt or Welker’s past reporting is any indication of what the debate will look like, just know it’ll be oozing with liberal bias.” Others have recalled former RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’s decision to officially suspend NBC News as a debate partner during the 2015 primaries thanks to the network’s long-established “petty and mean-spirited” bias against conservatives.
But unlike Reince Priebus, the RNC under McDaniel’s leadership has once again partnered with the left-wing network for the third GOP primary debate—granting corporate media executives at NBC the same chance to deride Republican candidates, disparage Republican voters, and prop up left-wing narratives.
Despite conservatives’ frustration with the RNC’s continued partnership with liberal media giants, however, Wednesday’s debate can provide GOP candidates looking to stand out with a much-needed opportunity to turn the tables on the media and hold them accountable for contorting every major news story into an attack on Republicans.
Here are five questions candidates should ask network moderators at this Wednesday’s debate.
- Before I answer your question, Mr. Holt, let me ask a question of you. What do you and your network’s corporate leadership say to the millions of voters watching this debate who believe that NBC is a singularly left-wing organization committed to advancing the agenda of the Democrat Party and progressive activist class while turning virtually every political story into an attack on Republican candidates or conservative views? What do you say to conservatives who view you as far more powerful than the Democrat Party and think of you as the real opposition party?
To conservative voters, it’s no surprise that mainstream media operatives at networks like NBC play a massively outsized role in American politics. With every passing election cycle, it becomes clearer that the media establishment—not the Democrat Party—poses the most significant threat to the American way of life. Without the left’s lackeys in the media, the universities, and the Deep State, it is difficult to see how Democrats would remain a powerful force in American elections.
As such, Holt and Welker must be forced to reckon with their role in the corruption of the American media landscape and take responsibility for their participation in selling Democrat Party talking points as bona fide objective journalism.
Though the debate moderators will almost certainly attempt to deflect from these accusations while hiding behind a false guise of journalistic integrity, Republican candidates should not let them—and should not hesitate to hold their feet to the fire. Though candidates like Chris Christie, who previously raked in $400,000 a year from ABC and whose campaign is widely seen as an audition for his next cushy media gig, is unlikely to target the media in this way, the candidates alongside him have every reason to raise these questions.
- Ms. Welker, before I answer your question, let me ask you this question. Legal scholar Jonathan Turley has stated that a public official using his office to enrich family members violates several federal criminal statutes. Furthermore, there are now bank records confirming that Joe Biden received personal checks from his brother and sister-in-law, paid with money they laundered from Communist China. When is NBC planning to tell viewers about Biden’s potential criminality and show them pictures of the checks made out to him by his family members?
“Influence peddling is a form of corruption,” Turley said to the House Oversight Committee in late September. “The United States has signed treaties to combat this form of corruption around the world—and that is also an inescapable fact,” he said after agreeing that Biden’s actions have warranted the launch of an impeachment inquiry. And as Turley noted in his testimony, influence peddling is “commonly facilitated or followed by criminal acts”—meaning that while “the alleged Biden influence peddling may not be criminal, it is most certainly corrupt.”
In recent weeks, investigations have revealed that Biden received a $40,000 personal check from his family, as well as a $200,000 check from his brother originating from a distressed company.
As James Comer, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, observed, “Bank records don’t lie, and coupled with witness testimony, they reveal that Joe Biden abused his public office for his family’s financial gain.” He continued: The financial records obtained to date reveal a pattern where the Bidens sold access to Joe Biden around the world to enrich the Biden family. As the Bidens were sealing deals around the world, Joe Biden showed up, met with, talked with, shook hands with, and had meetings with the foreign nationals sending money to his family.”
Predictably, NBC has failed to accurately cover Biden’s growing mountain of pay-to-play schemes and implication in possible criminal acts. GOP candidates should ask the moderators, will NBC reveal to voters the disturbing extent of Biden’s shady financial dealings?
- Before I answer your question, Mr. Holt, let me ask you this: why has NBC failed to run a story on the Biden DOJ’s political persecution of whistleblowers in the Hunter Biden cases?
In recent months, whistleblowers have testified that the Bidens received millions of dollars in bribes from foreign countries, that the FBI knowingly covered up Biden’s bribery scheme with a Ukrainian energy company, and that Attorney General Merrick Garland has likely interfered with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigations into the Biden family, among other groundbreaking revelations.
In other words, it is becoming impossible to deny the fact that Joe Biden used the pulpit of the vice presidency to accept bribes from foreign countries—enriching himself and his family at the expense of his commitment to public service and loyalty to the Constitution.
But rather than holding the Biden family accountable, the DOJ has repeatedly mistreated the whistleblowers who have brought the information forward. According to the House Oversight Committee, the “Department of Justice prevented investigators from following evidence that could have led to Joe Biden; divulged sensitive information to Hunter Biden’s attorneys; and allowed the clock to run out to prevent charging Hunter Biden with felonies.”
Meanwhile, whistleblowers have confirmed that they “were not allowed to follow evidence that could have led to Joe Biden” and have “faced retaliation from the federal government for providing evidence of politicization, misconduct, and wrongdoing.”
On Wednesday, NBC moderators should be forced to address their lack of coverage of these scandals, which virtually amount to a coverup of bureaucratic corruption and left-wing cronyism.
- Ms. Welker, before I answer your question, I would like to offer you the chance to take this moment to apologize to the American people on behalf of NBC News for more than two years propagating the lie dreamt up by Hillary Clinton and her lawyers that Donald Trump was a Russian operative, and then cover up the Hunter Biden “Laptop from Hell” story that is now precipitating what could be the worst public corruption scandal in U.S. history. Will you take me up on my offer?
Over the last few years alone, NBC has been complicit in discrediting the politically explosive Hunter Biden laptop story leading up to the 2020 presidential election, proliferating the left’s now entirely discredited Russiagate narrative, and echoing Democrat Party talking points on a wide slate of issues.
According to the Media Research Center (MRC), NBC was among the networks that did “everything they [could] to avoid investigating the latest Hunter Biden bombshells.” MRC’s analysis of the NBC’s coverage from October 14-19 in 2020, right at the height of the controversy, found that the network spent only five minutes and two seconds discussing the scandal—a clear sign that NBC executives were working to ensure a Biden victory.
Thanks to NBC’s blatant refusal to honestly cover what would normally have been considered a game-changing “October surprise,” a post-election poll found that a whopping one in six voters would have changed their vote had they been aware of the Biden scandals—a testament to the extent of the media’s influence on voters.
NBC also played a consequential role in supporting the Democrats’ Russiagate narrative, which suggested that President Donald Trump was a Russian agent beholden to the wishes Vladimir Putin. Despite the fact that Russiagate has been entirely discredited, NBC and other networks have refused to apologize for spreading obvious lies.
This is just a brief overview of NBC’s abandonment of journalistic ethics in favor of boosting left-wing narratives. Candidates on the debate stage this Wednesday should ask the moderators whether they are willing to apologize directly to the American people for shamelessly and repeatedly lying to them.
- Mr. Holt, before I give you an answer, let me give you the opportunity to address this. In 2020, the New York Post reported that former NBC personality Chuck Todd (who had no experience as a reporter prior to his post with NBC, and one time worked for far-left Senator Tom Harkin) was once the landlord of former presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) with significant financial transactions. Todd has also been the subject of other conflicts of interest—yet, NBC has failed to disclose them. Do you think NBC’s refusal to disclose these relationships was appropriate, and will you ask NBC’s general counsel to conduct an investigation?
As the New York Post reported in early 2020, “Klobuchar and her husband, lawyer John Bessler, rented a 3-bedroom home owned by Todd in Arlington, Virginia.” Despite the lack of public disclosures surrounding this relationship, the Post continued, it had not been “a secret among Beltway insiders that Todd rented the home to Klobuchar.” Nevertheless, Todd interviewed Klobuchar at least eight times during her 2020 run, in addition to his moderation of a primary debate.
Additionally, as revealed in Alex Marlowe’s 2021 book Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruption, Todd’s wife—a Democrat consultant—was paid more than $900,000 by the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2020 and more than $1.5 million in 2016. Given NBC’s refusal to disclose these clear conflicts of interest or otherwise acknowledge them as problematic, who is to say what other suspicious relationships the network continues to keep secret?
Todd has also repeatedly interviewed figures like Democrat Senator Tim Kaine as well as former Senator Jim Webb (where he invariably lobbed them softball questions) even though his wife had done business with both.
On Wednesday, candidates should raise this issue directly with the moderators—and press them on what other inappropriate relationships they refuse to disclose to the American public.
- Ms. Welker, before I answer that question, let me ask you about two incidents that some people believe began your network’s decline in ethical journalism. As you know, NBC was rocked by the Brian Williams scandal—and perhaps even more telling is your network’s treatment of Lisa Myers, who left NBC on account of its refusal to honestly report on Obamacare when she discovered the Obama administration was deliberately lying to the American people about its content and promises. Do you feel these incidents marked the beginning of what has become a culture of unethical behavior at NBC News?
Many Americans attribute NBC’s journalistic collapse to the network’s treatment of Lisa Myers, who worked as a senior NBC News correspondent for more than three decades. During the Obama administration, Myers reported the now-infamous story that Barack Obama was, in fact, lying when he repeatedly told Americans that they could keep their health insurance after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.
According to New York Magazine, when Myers discovered that “the White House knew as far back as 2010 that some people would lose their insurance policies under Obamacare,” NBC reporter Brian Williams was unwilling to air a segment on the revelation. A frustrated Myers shortly thereafter posted the story on NBC’s website, where it went “immediately viral.” She left the organization just months later.
“Overall, the mainstream media has been less eager to hold this administration accountable than it was to hold the Bush administration accountable,” Myers said following her resignation. Shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Jonathan Gruber—widely seen as the architect of the legislation—infamously told a panel that the “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” thereby instituting the putative ‘right to lie’ for elected leaders.
On Wednesday, Republican presidential hopefuls should ask why NBC allowed itself to become a political proxy for the Obama administration—and whether it believes it has the right to mislead the public.
An October 2023 Gallup poll found that Americans’ trust in the media has plummeted to its lowest on record. And it’s no wonder why. Until NBC executives and personalities can acknowledge their complicity in this waning trust, our nation’s much-needed media reform will remain an impossibility.
For the sake of honor, honesty, and transparency in our media, every American of good will should hope that the media can reckon with these mistakes—and there could be no better opportunity than this Wednesday’s debate.
Aaron Flanigan is the pen name of a writer in Washington, D.C.