Social media erupted with criticism after Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate ended with a final question about Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush’s controversial friendship rather than tackling important issues like climate change and immigration. As the fourth primary debate drew to a close, moderator Anderson Cooper asked the 12-candidate Democratic field on stage to describe a friendship "that would surprise us.”
Two hours and 45 minutes later, CNN still hasn’t asked about climate change or campaign finance reform.
CNN, just now: In the spirit of Ellen Degeneres, “tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us.”
*shrieks*#DemDebate— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) October 16, 2019
DeGeneres has been embattled in controversy ever since she was spotted sitting next to the former POTUS at a Sunday, Oct. 6 Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers NFL game, with critics slamming the talk show host, a gay woman, for befriending a former POTUS who held anti-LGBT stances throughout his presidency and has been called a "war criminal" following his actions in the Iraq War.
While DeGeneres attempted to end the controversy with a call for tolerance, it has continued to dominate headlines, though many felt that bringing the topic up in the Tuesday debate was unwarranted, claiming that the time could have better been used to allow candidates to address more pressing topics.
“Not one single question about the climate crisis. Not one single question about the climate crisis. Not one single question about the climate crisis,” one person wrote. “This is the existential crisis of our time. Not one single question, and that’s completely inexcusable.”
No questions about
- When life begins
- Bernie's past praise of communists
- Warren mocking people of faith at LGBTQ event
- Hunter Biden's conflicts of interest (to all candidates)
- How to pay for Green New Deal
But we can talk about Ellen. Eyeroll.— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) October 16, 2019
“Are we f–ing talking about Ellen DeGeneres to candidates for the gotdam (sic) President of the United States?!?!?!?!” another wrote.
Responding to the question, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro claimed that while he believes “we should be more kind to other folks," he also believes that “we should hold people to account for what they've done, especially public servants who have a record of having done something or not done something."
Three hours and no questions tonight about climate, housing, or immigration.
Climate change is an existential threat. America has a housing crisis. Children are still in cages at our border.
But you know, Ellen.#DemocraticDebate— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 16, 2019
Speaking with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes following the debate, Castro said the failure to ask more substantive questions was "journalistic malpractice."
“I challenge CNN and The New York Times to ask, finally ask, about homelessness and housing. I tried to insert a little bit about that in some of my answers. But we talked about Ellen [DeGeneres] at the end,” he said, according to Mediaite. “I know what the point of the question was, but we keep leaving some of these huge issues that impact families off of the question agenda at these debates. And really, it’s journalistic malpractice to do that.”